So Many Choices, One Short Life

streaming images as internet conceptDepending on who you are and where you are in life, your world is wall-to-wall options. And there you stand, with freedom to choose, with your one short precious life in your pocket, wondering where to spend it, or at least where to spend the rest of it. That’s the dilemma of the moment. We say, “I don’t know if there is one overriding thing we all should give ourselves to. Every person is different.” That statement sounds humble and will earn you a gold star on the pc chart. But it leaves us floating downstream through the years, watching for something, anything along the way that might look worthy of a desperate grab—something shiny, or smart, or fun, or cool.

Thankfully, our Creator doesn’t stand off at a distance, saying, “I don’t want to influence you either way. Just find out for yourself.” That’s why Jesus gives input. The apostles give input. You’re not left alone to find your way while God pretends every life choice is equally good and valid.

At some point in the journey, most of us consider money and material possessions as being the big answer. It sure feels that way. Fill your bank account and have the life and the stuff you want.  He who dies with the most toys wins. But Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and money” (Mt. 6:24). He doesn’t say you can’t have God and money. You just can’t serve both of them. (Incidentally, that’s where the challenge lies; when you have great material wealth, you tend to want to serve it). Small wars occur in the God-mammon struggle: each will influence your heart to the extent that finally one of them is going to win—“you will hate the one and love the other” (Matt. 6:24) In effect, Jesus says to let your hands be full of God and His kingdom (Mt. 6:33).

I’m not against money here. I like to pay the bills. I don’t want to shop generic. It’s just that we need a purpose bigger than Cadillacs and cash—a life that attracts riches that can’t be stolen or rot and the stock market can’t devalue. When you die, these kingdom riches go with you. Or should I say, they await you. Eventually you’re going to have to choose whether you want your hands full of monopoly money or the real thing. But never say you weren’t advised.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I have suffered the loss of all things” (Phil. 3:8). As a contemporary Christian, I don’t like this scary talk. We’re concerned about a great many things, and keeping them, too—from Dish network to name brand clothing to the best school systems. Paul’s statement sounds tragic and dreary. He says he lost all, to which we secretly say, “I hope I don’t have to.” The word “loss” seems so off-putting that I don’t even hear why he was willing to lose anything—for “the excellence of the knowledge of Christ” (Phil. 3:8). Paul focused on what he got. Not on what he lost. He filled his hands with “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).

Was it worth it? Paul says yes, and I would, too. His life has blessed millions of people down through the centuries. I’m so glad this man didn’t decide to make his ultimate goal a top position in the Jewish world with a yacht on the Mediterranean. I needed to see a person live this way—brave, and blessed, and filled.

When your hands are full of Christ, it does something to you. It’s like carrying around a bundle of roses and then smelling like them at the end of the day. Or if you’re a coffee connoisseur, it’s like being the guy who works at the roastery and then smells like Colombian Mocha. The Bible says, “We are a fragrance of Christ” (2 Cor 2:15). We take that aroma everywhere. People will either hate it or they’ll love it. But they’ll have a hard time being indifferent to it.

Choose wisely what will fill your life. You only get one shot.

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