I recently had lunch with my sister. Though we barely live five miles from each other, we rarely get together. Something always comes up, like one of her children gets sick, or my husband has a doctor’s appointment. Life just gets too busy sometimes. But while we were talking yesterday, I started to realize just how much I had missed us hanging out, talking, laughing, sharing stories about our days. Just the simple act of sharing a meal with someone turned in to a heartwarming, bonding experience. I began to think afterwards, how comforting and rewarding the experience was. And, how can I continue to have these type of experiences?
Over the weekend, my granddaughter turned seven. Her mother invited us all to go out to dinner, which was an enjoyable but noisy affair (because there were quite a few of us). Later we went to a pottery place, where the children could paint their own piece of pottery. The kids enjoyed it, including my granddaughter. She also received many presents. We then had a sleepover at a local hotel. The whole experience was fun, and I was blessed to be a part of it. Of course, all of this costs money.
While it would be unfair to compare these two experiences (lunch with my sister and birthday party/sleepover) I can’t help but wonder which one left me more refreshed, joyful, and optimistic. For some reason, lunch with my sister just seemed more enjoyable. I came away feeling better. Just the simple act of spending time with someone, talking and laughing, was way more rewarding. We didn’t even need to eat lunch, just be with each other. This left me wondering why sometimes we feel the need to spend money buying stuff we probably don’t need, or spend money on experiences (sports, video games, movies, etc.). While those things are fine, maybe we need to come up with more ways (for little or no money) to give us the same pleasure and joy we normally get by buying stuff.
Have you heard the saying, “You can’t take it with you”? What does it mean? You came in to this world with nothing, and when you die, you leave with nothing. So why do we spend the years in between, working to acquire so much STUFF? Does it make us happy – maybe for a short time. Does it show others what a good person we are – not always. Does it make life easier – sometimes, sometimes not. Does it get us a free pass to Heaven – definitely not! Jesus reiterates that fact in Mark 10:17-31:
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.'” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age–houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions–and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
In the last line of this verse, “but many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Jesus was talking about heaven when He spoke these words, and He actually used this expression on several occasions. Jesus spoke this immediately after a very wealthy young man came to Him and asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. As Jesus talked with him, it became clear that the man was not only rich and powerful, but also very moral and religious. When Jesus listed many of the Ten Commandments, the man could truthfully reply, “All these I have kept” (Matthew 19:20). But Jesus looked beneath the surface of the man’s life and saw what was going on in his heart: He was driven by greed and covetousness. When Jesus challenged him to give up his wealth and become a disciple, “he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:22). He had obeyed every one of the Ten Commandments except the last: “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17). Tragically, his wealth and power meant more to him than God. Jesus’ words are a solemn warning to us that earthly success will not get us into heaven. In fact, it can get in the way by blinding us to our own sin. Only Christ can save us, and no matter who we are, we need to give our lives to Him. Are you trusting Him alone for your salvation?