Many years ago a man and his neighbour bought tickets to sail to far away countries. They were planning to start new lives there. They knew that after arriving in their respective countries (they were going to different destinations) they would not be able to return home and so needed to prepare carefully what they were going to take with them. Unfortunately due to the age in which they lived, it wasn’t clear when either of their ships would depart...
The first man spent all his time preparing for the trip. He saved all he could and bought provisions and building materials to ensure he’d get the best start possible in his new country. He lived a little hard but he knew his life was across the oceans and he was working towards that.
His neighbour also knew he needed to prepare for his departure but he wanted to live a little before he left. He figured he had plenty of time to prepare because his neighbour had been preparing for some years and his ship call still hadn’t come. So he bought himself a house, enjoyed life and kept postponing his travel preparations.
Eventually the ship calls came in, surprisingly at the same time for both men, and their ships were boarding immediately. The first man was well prepared for his trip and took his provisions on board with him. The neighbour’s plan had been to live a comfortable life in his home and then sell it and use the money to buy provisions just before he sailed. Unfortunately, due to the immediacy of the departure the neighbour had no time to sell his house. This meant he had no money to buy provisions.
When the first man arrived at his destination he quickly established himself and enjoyed a long and prosperous life in his new country. The neighbour however was landed with virtually nothing but the clothes he was standing in. He struggled to survive in his new country and lived a life of regret.
It’s not rocket science to see who was the wiser of the two men.
The bible teaches that after death all believers will stand before God to be judged for what we have done on earth. In 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 Paul makes it clear that the works of our life will be tested by fire. Those things which are worthwhile (viewed by God as gold, silver and precious stones) will be refined by the fire of His testing, our worthless acts (viewed by God as wood, hay and stubble) will be consumed by it. It’s not that we won’t get to heaven, it’s that we may only just get to heaven.
“If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor 3:14-15). Sobering words.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Like the men in this story we too will leave earth on a journey and nothing material we gather on earth can come with us. Yet our afterlife goes on forever. Fortunately we also have the opportunity to lay up provisions for eternity before we leave. And the more we lay up for eternity, the better our eternity will be. Conversely the less we lay up, the poorer our forever will be. It’s a no brainer really, I mean after 100 million years in heaven, how important was it to compromise yourself for a few lousy bucks on your tax return? Or to put off that offering the Holy Spirit was prompting you about because you wanted that new phone or dress… or car or house?
The most important words you can ever possibly hear are “Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matt 25:21) Nothing else matters. Really. The very cool thing about God’s reward system is that what you send on ahead multiplies, “few things” become “many things”.
So what are you laying aside? Do you have a servant mindset? Is Christ your master or your insurance policy? Over and over in the New Testament we read “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,” (Rom 1:1) “Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ,” (Phil 1:1) “James a servant of God” (Jas 1:1) “Jude a servant of Jesus Christ,” (Jude 1) “…His servant John.” (Rev 1:1).
Are you serving Christ or fitting Him into your busy schedule? Are you doing what is “good” or what God has told you to do? Are you building gold, silver and precious gems with your life or wood, hay and stubble? It's your afterlife...