How would you summarise your life?
Recently a very dear friend and brother in Christ went home to be with the LORD, and, as is common, at his funeral service a eulogy will be given, presenting a brief summary of his life. My lasting memory is that he was a man who loved God’s word, a man of faith and a man of prayer; he was a man who sought to obey God regardless of the eternal circumstance. Nothing else matters now. Grades at school, career achievements, material possessions, all is meaningless once you cross the border from this life into eternity.
In our study through the book of 1st Kings we have seen a number of ‘eulogies’. 1 Kings 15:7 tells us “Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam” – that is, in his three years as king of Judah, everything else he did is reduced to this single sentence in the Bible, telling us that those things, however many, however great, are all recorded in a book long since lost in the sands of time, but notably they are not recorded in God’s book!
For 24 years Baasha ruled the northern kingdom of Israel; we are given a summary of his relationship with God in 1st Kings chapter 16, as given by the prophet Jehu. In short, he disobeyed God and brought judgment upon himself. Then we are told: “Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” (1 Kings 16:5). That is , 24 years as a king, and all we really know is that he disobeyed God. He had been given such a great opportunity to make a difference to an entire nation; what great things he could have accomplished that could have been recorded on eternity’s pages forever! But alas we are simply pointed elsewhere to read of all he did in 24 years on the throne, yet none of those things are recorded by God. All we are told about Baasha in 1 Kings 15:16-21 is that, like Jeroboam before him, he tried to stop the people of the northern kingdom making the annual pilgrimages to the temple in Jerusalem by fortifying the principle city on the route to Jerusalem, fearful that if the people attended the feasts in Judah, they might reject him as their king. Ironically, in trying to save his kingdom he ultimately lost it! (see Matthew 16:25).
In the final analysis what matters is our obedience to God. After trying every which way, Solomon concluded Ecclesiastes by saying: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
All of your accomplishments, however much wealth you accumulate, however successful you are in your career, family or community, all this may be recorded elsewhere, on certificates maybe, but it will be lost and forgotten in the light of eternity. What really matters is what is recorded in God’s book. (Revelation 20:15).
This is not to say we shouldn’t try or work hard, in fact Christians are mandated to be the best employees (1 Timothy 6:1), and as Solomon said “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10), but all that we do should be done in the light of Colossians 3:17:“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him”.
It is obedience not success that should be the measure of our lives. It is not about ‘what we have done and the might we have’ but rather, did we do it in obedience to Christ?
“By [Jesus] we have received grace… for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name” (Romans 1:5).