Living Second: Vain

Imagine what it would be like to have access to any and everything you want. No fee is too great. No location too remote. Don’t know how to do it? You have the time and the tutors to learn it. Wonder if it is legal or moral? All restrictions are out the window and the red tape is put through the shredder.

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What would you do? Where would you go? This is much larger than your “bucket list.” It isn’t what to do before your final moments, but what to fill your living days with. Projects, travels, people, acquisitions. You have your pick of the world. What will you choose? What will you leave behind?

In terms of wealth and influence, the greatest king of Israel and Judah was Solomon, son of David. The world was his oyster, acquirable and desirable. He did not have to look at price tags or ask for permission. If he wanted it, it was his. If his desire was to try his hand at it, others got out of the way.

But there was one problem. Nothing satisfied him. No amount fulfilled his longing. Look at his own confession:

Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NLT)

This week we are looking into a small slice of the book Live Second by Doug Bender. It is a daily journey in the Jesus-centered lfie, where He is first and we live to fulfill the mission, “I am second.” Part of living second is the evaluation of every opportunity in the light of eternity. For most of us it is difficult to choose, think and act from this perspective.

Some of us live week to week with paychecks and struggle to keep food in our cupboards or a roof over our heads. Maybe you live day to day worrying about how the bully at school will impact your child’s life. Others endure the physical pain of sickness and disease from hour to hour in a hospital bed, wondering how they will make through another night of torment.

With all of the pressures of this life, whether self-induced or just living in a fallen world, we often forget to think about eternity. We love God and we trust in the work of Jesus Christ for our salvation. In a sense we have our appointment and accommodations for eternity all set. We need to be reminded that every word and action is an investment. We will fill one of two accounts by the incessant steps of daily life.

When we roll through life and choose the quick and easy, the immediately satisfying, the fulfillment of pleasures and pride, our retirement funds flow into an earthly account. Take a quick walk through town and you see the size of these earthly accounts. Cars, trucks, boats, houses, clothes, over-flowing cupboards, phones, computers, wallets, lattes, and a million other signs.

They are nice. They are helpful. Some are even necessary. But one day they will cease. Rather, we will cease to have access to them.

If we bank on what we can do, what we can save, what we can build or retire on, then we plan for only the seventy or eighty years we wander on earth. If we hold fast to the concerns and cares of this life, without thinking first of those of the next, then we strive in vain and we chase the wind. (Live Second, 56)

Instead we must choose to invest in eternity. Easily said but difficult to accomplish. We don’t know how to do it. Examples are hard to find because there are so few excelling at it. Choosing eternity flows out of living from a different value system than we are used to. It requires us to evaluate choices based on a different set of rules and outcomes that we are trained to use.

  • Don’t just consider the immediate moment, but look into the ripples of the future.
  • Don’t stop at the impact to your personal feelings or desires, but how the lives of others will be affected.
  • Don’t get trapped by situational ethics and your own understanding, but learn and obey God’s prescription for your situation.

This is how we choose thoughts and actions that fill the eternal savings account. Then, whether we have much or little on Earth, we will be content. And what we build up, what we put into motion, will have the staying power to endure and pay dividends throughout eternity.

 

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Live Second:365 Ways to Make Jesus First is a devotional companion to the book, I am Second, a compilation of stories of real lives changed when they made themselves second to Jesus. You can find out more about the I am Second movement at www.iamsecond.com, including film stories of changed lives and resources for living second. You can also find both books at your favorite book retailer.

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