I Timothy 6:1-21
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. I Timothy 6:6-8 (NKJV)
When you come to the end of your days, how will you measure success? Will it be be the wealth (or lack thereof) you have accumulated? Will it be the resume of accomplishments you leave in your wake? Paul here echoes the words of Job 1:20. "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there." We have all heard the half-humorous jab: "YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU." No one has ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul (except in the picture in this blog).
So, when your body lies someday in a hearse, and you look back over your days here on earth, what will you see? This may sound depressing and morbid, but really it bears our consideration.
The great evangelical pastor and leader of the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards, was as "fully alive" as any man could be. He penned 70 Resolutions whereby he lived his life. Resolution No. 6 states: Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live. What would such a life look like? Paul answers: "godliness with contentment is great gain" -- a full, satisifed life lived to the glory of God!
Then, No. 7: Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life. Edwards advises us to live NOW with consideration of that view from your hearse. Don't do NOW that which you would regret as you look back.
And No. 9: Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death. Edwards lived his life as if everything counted for eternity. It is not the material things, but the God-centered things that will last.
One of the great lines from a great movie came in Gladiator when Marcellus rallies his fellow-slaves in battle. He stoops to pick up dust and says, "Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity."
We live now as dying men and women. There will be a day soon in which the story of your life on this earth will be finished. What will that story be? You are writing the pages today!
* I have borrowed the title of this blog from the great little book by the late Joseph Bayly entitled The View from a Hearse: the Christian View of Death. It is now in reprint under the title The Last Thing We Talk About.