Serve Well Done

As Paul closes his letter to the Colossians, in typical style he has personal words concerning specific individuals associated with that church. He mentions the names of 10 people who, with the exception of a few, are otherwise unknown biblically, or historically. Most of these brief references give us a peek into the lives and character of these individuals, the majority of whom would have passed into antiquity completely unnoticed if not for Paul’s short comments concerning them. So, if the Apostle Paul is going to immortalize your name in Scripture, you would hope he says something positive. That’s a great argument for using wisely the one life God has given you! 

One of the saddest phrases is: “If I only had it to do all over again…” How many times have you heard someone say that after lamenting over a bad decision or poor use of his or her time? Perhaps you’ve used the phrase yourself. Imagine looking back on a whole lifetime and realizing that there’s no second chance, no “do-overs,” no “mulligans,” and you’ve essentially wasted your time on earth.

On the other hand, it is always puzzling to me when someone, usually a celebrity, looking back on a highly publicized career—often a life notorious for self-indulgent, decadent hedonism—expresses no regrets! I guess I’m a little naïve, but I hold out hope that one of them will surprise me when the interviewer asks, “Any regrets?” Just once I’d like to hear, “Yes. I wish I’d sought to glorify God with my life rather than wasting it on things I can’t take with me.”

Many years ago, an uncle of mine passed away. He was relatively young, in his early 60s. Though we hadn’t seen each other much over the years, in his final weeks, my dad and I visited him several times. He had been an alcoholic and a womanizer, and for many years we didn’t even know where he was living. He essentially spent his life indulging the flesh. He lived hard and died young, quite the opposite of his big brother, my dad.

I recall one visit in particular. My uncle looked at my dad and said, “How come you were so smart? You made good choices. I don’t know why I did what I did. I didn’t even enjoy it that much.” But he had made his choices and his time was up. Soon thereafter, he entered eternity with virtually nothing to show for the one life God had given him—such a waste.

Speaking of a waste, I once read about a man who earned the coveted title “Couch Potato King.” Suresh Joachim intentionally sat and watched TV for 69 hours and 48 minutes straight (with occasional, brief potty breaks). It was a world record. In fact, he holds a total of 16 world records, including the longest bowling marathon, balancing on one foot, and rocking in a rocking chair. Impressive! I tried to imagine Mr. Joachim explaining those records to the Lord on that day when he gives an accounting of his life. How might he answer Jesus if He were to ask, “Any regrets?”

In Luke 19, Jesus gives a parable that teaches about investing wisely. It is not a lesson on finances, but rather a story that illustrates our opportunity to make wise choices with our time. You’ve made one wise choice by reading this eSermon, but what about the rest of your time? Any regrets? Well, there’s still time.

It has been pointed out that on a tombstone, there are the dates of birth and death with an entire life represented by the small dash between the two. Often, only a written epitaph further defines the deceased’s life. If you could write your epitaph, what would you want it to say? How would the investment of your time really reflect what your life was about? Whether you know it or not, you’re writing your epitaph every day, one second at a time.

These past 15 years, since we started Living Oaks Community Church, have been an undeniable reminder of how fast time passes. Nearly two months ago, we completed 15 years since that Sunday in June 2004, when we had our first worship gathering. It honestly seems like yesterday. I don’t regret investing these years in this work. Instead, there’s an overwhelming sense of thanks to God. I hope to invest many more.

I believe that God still has much for us to do. I’m grateful for those (perhaps you) who have partnered in the ministry God has established through Living Oaks. We may not get our names in the record books, like the Couch Potato King, but that can’t compare to hearing the words, “Well done.” Let’s go for that instead!

 

“Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life;” —Genesis 25:8

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