|Volume 23 Number 12 December 2021
Of all the myriad of items or objects that we could leave our immediate and extended family, friends, neighbors, coworkers or any other earthly relationships, none can surpass the gift of an unwavering example of faith, trust and obedience to Holy God Almighty! In retrospect, the most important thing that my daddy left me was the Bible teachings about the Lord’s church. Acquiring that knowledge as an adolescent set me on a path that I continue to follow. I was very thankful that I had the opportunity to let Daddy know that before he died. I attended his funeral with no regrets. Every day that God allows me to still be here, I am reminded in some of the most profound ways from my vantage point – that life is fleeting, unpredictable, tragic and ever changing. Some of our best days have somehow been marred by life happenings!
One of our ministers brought a lesson several years ago on the brevity of life and where our real focus should be for the breadth of time that we are here. He read some thoughts from an e-mail entitled, “Countdown of Life – How much time do you really have left?” This countdown was based on a person living for 78 years. It touched on the various things that a person could do, and the life remaining to spend the way most people want to live was 9 years and 6 months!
When the children of Israel were about to cross over into the Promised Land, Moses had numerous recounting of God’s laws for them to embrace and obey. Moses set before them the choice of life or death. In Deuteronomy 30:15 he said, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil (NKJV).” Moses drove the point home in verses 19 and 20. “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give them.”
Deuteronomy 31:9 tells us that Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. Deuteronomy 31:10-13 reads, “And Moses commanded them saying: ‘At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time… when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.’”
What is the legacy we are leaving? When people hear our names, what is the first thought they have of us? Is it something spiritual or something worldly? Are we passing on a spiritual legacy to our children, grandchildren and great grands? Our conversations and interactions with family and all others should be peppered with praises of thanksgiving to God. David said in Psalm 34:1-3, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
What is the legacy we are leaving? Are we afraid or ashamed to glorify God wherever we may be? Confessing the name of Christ is much more than the acknowledgement one makes at the time of his or her baptism. We confess the name of Christ through daily opportunities and in some situations, we make the opportunity happen. Paul expressed it this way in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” When we enter or leave any situation, is the fragrance of Christ brought there and left in that setting?
Without getting morbid, we need to live with the thought in the recesses of our minds that our death or the return of Jesus Christ is always imminent! The only requirement for our death is that we be alive. Some will be alive when Christ returns. Whether we have died or are alive when the trumpet of the Lord sounds and time shall be no more, the question is, “Will we be ready?” What legacy are we leaving? Are we planting the seed of irrevocable divine truth in the hearts of those in our circle of influence? Time is of the essence for all of us to be about our Father’s business – seeking to save lost souls.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:42-44, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Jesus said in Mark 13:32-37, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” Both warnings are grave and timeless!
Bear One Another’s Burdens
We live in a culture that teaches us to hide our weaknesses and failures. We are told not to interfere with people’s lives, and they should not interfere with our lives. Children express the sentiment well when they say, “It is none of your business.” It breaks my heart to see how many Christians have allowed this idea and cultural response to disrupt Christian relationships. It is an absolute contradiction to the example set forth in God’s inspired Word.
Ten years ago, my family faced a life altering experience. We had made poor choices that led to other poor choices. Without realizing it at the time, sin was at the heart of the whole matter. As our actions bore forth their consequences, we truly regretted what we had allowed our lives to become. By God’s amazing providence, we had recently started attending services with a congregation who understood love and bearing with one another. This congregation took us from two broken Christians who had fallen away while sitting in the pews for years to where we are today, in ministry.
Without the love, support and forgiveness of this congregation, we would not be here today. The eldership, ministers, deacons and members came to us with open arms, asking us how they could help put our broken family back together. Piece by piece, they used God’s love and His Word to change us. We have no doubt that our lives would not be the same without this group of individuals. In fact, we know of many congregations that would have turned their backs on us. We very likely would have left the church without the support we received.
Repeatedly, I see people who encounter tragedies who have no understanding of the church family. They believe they must hide all their struggles and sins instead of turning to the church for the love and the support that God intended.
Galatians 6:1-2 tells us that when our brothers fall into transgressions, we must go to them and help them return from that life of sin. We see in Romans 12:13 that we are to contribute to the needs of the saints, and from Romans 12:15, we learn that we are to rejoice and weep with those who are doing such. These are not suggestions but are commandments from God. We are to love and to support each other through both the good and the bad times. If we choose not to provide that love, we are failing to meet the law God set forth. However, there is another side to this coin. If Christians refuse to share their needs by choosing to live lives of privacy, they are preventing others from fulfilling the law. They have become a stumbling block to their brothers.
Christians, we need to understand that no one is immune from sin and tragedy. God knew this, and He knew living faithfully to Him would be a struggle at times in our lives. Yet, God is so good, and He never leaves us unprepared. He gave us the church to love, support, guide and correct each other. It’s time we put our culture, personal beliefs and fears aside. We need to fulfill the law that God gave us.