The Value of A Life
“And it came to pass that Sarah lived one-hundred and twenty-seven years; these are the years of Sarah.”
Isn’t it amazing that, when all of our years on earth are done, they are summed up so briefly? Behind our church there is a cemetery with rows and rows of headstones. And in most cases, the life of the person whose body is buried beneath is summarized by just a handful of words. When was this person born? When did they die? Were they married? Did they have children? And perhaps one or two things that were memorable about the person along with a passage of scripture. Such is the nature of history. Even the lives of the famous will end up being summarized in a few paragraphs in a history book or if one has led a particularly interesting or influential life, perhaps even in a biography. But again, what are the words that will fill several hundred pages of a biography in comparison to a full life lived on earth? One is tempted to claim with Solomon that it is all vanity…chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:2,17).
Yet, I would propose that Sarah understood what we often miss…that the summary of our lives is not the reason we live a life. We live a life to glorify our God. He is the one that ought be remembered; he is the one that needs to be honored. Were you to live a hundred and twenty-seven years and die in obscurity, but having glorified God with every breath, your life is of far more worth than the man who built monuments to himself and changed the scope of human history but done so to his own glory. Though earthly biographies may be written of men and women that have lived for themselves, of what value is that biography when one must live in eternity consumed by the fires of hell. Similarly, though not a word be written about my life or the life of another believer, of what importance to me will a biography be when I am in the presence of my Lord and King for all eternity? The praise of men pales in the light of the presence of my God and Savior.
And thus we have the close of Sarah’s life and so too, may our life be closed in a similar way in God’s timing. May everything that is said and done by me and about me always point toward Christ and speak of His glory. When I die, let it be Christ of whom they speak, not the man held in the Master’s hand.
Posted on May 04, 2012, in Expositions and tagged biography, cemetery, Genesis 23:1, glorify God, glorify man, purpose, purpose of life, remembrance, tombstone, Value of a Life, why am I here?, worth of a life. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
I always try to do everything to the glory of God. And my intentions are that in what I do God will be honored and remembered. But sometimes I wonder if I am decieving myself, because I sort of feel that my heart is selfish. I can say and even think that I want God to get the honor for my life, but then sometimes what I do says something else. As you know I have written some books, and I have said that I want God to get all the glory. But I wonder what would be revealed if suddenly my books began to sell. Would pride be revealed in me? Would I be strong enough to not take the credit for what God has done in me? I guess the reason why I am having these thoughts is because people around me are not giving me much feedback as to what they see in me. I don’t know what people think of me. I hope it is good. One often, I suppose, wonders how big of a funeral they will have. And what will they will say about me?
But in the end, what really matters is how much God is honored by my life, whether people know about my true intentions or not. Will He be honored by what I have said, what I have done, or what I have written? i hope people will think well of me and that they will decide to follow ever closer to God because of me–Matt. 5:16. I am always fearful that something I say or do will cause people to reject Christ. May that never be!
Well enough about me. Thanks for the good writing and for helping to stir up thoughts. How’s it going?
I appreciate your thoughts, Stephen. And, you are right, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking it is all about “me.” Remember, though, the mark of a person’s influence is not typically seen in that person’s lifetime. The mark of someone’s influence will be seen in whether that person is still being read (or even “discovered”) 100 years or more after his lifetime.
Honestly, I think that most of the greatest thinkers didn’t realize the importance of their thought while they walked on the earth and I also think that many of those who are making money today writing theology or Christian literature will be forgotten in 100 years.
My philosophy is to say what I believe and see who follows. To minister to my flock and not march to the drum of Zondervan or Eerdmans. If I only ever sell a few books, then I am still doing what God called me to do. And my hope is that I can leave behind a sketch of what I consider important to my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. If that becomes my “legacy” to them, so be it. 🙂
And ultimately, if I help 1 or 2 or even 100 people love their creator more deeply, then praise be to God for the privilege he has given me to help make disciples.
Things are going well; I love what God has called me to do and I love being in the context that God has placed me here in Western PA. In many ways, I am struggling to discover whether it was this church/tradition that was created for me or whether I was created for this church/tradition. Funny how a sovereign God works.