Is there any better time than right now to go back and pray the prayer of David? “God remind me what’s important in life. Help me remember what matters most.” Help me to focus on the things that really count. When I focus on what really counts I begin to worry less about the things that are bad in this world and are out of my control. We need to pray what David prayed in Psalm 39 “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.” And in Psalm 90 “Teach us to make the most of our time.”
Right now let’s be reminded of the most important truth in life. When we do, all the disappointments in life begin to diminish in magnitude. This is not a new truth. Everything I am going to say, you probably already know. But if you would take this truth and write it on a card and place it where it is a regular reminder to you it will keep your focus and energy where it needs to be most. Put it on your refrigerator, put it on your dashboard in your car, put it up on the mirror in your bedroom, computer screen – look at it over and over and over. If you will follow, if you will apply, if you will practice this truth you’ll have a healthier life. You’ll have a happier family. You’ll have a more productive business. There will be far fewer divorces and separations in our culture if we will just listen to what God has said. And the political climate and results will begin to hold less and less sway in our hearts.
So here it is, the best use of life is love
1 Corinthians 14:1 says “Let love be your highest goal.” Make it your number one priority. Make it your primary objective. Make it your greatest ambition. Make it your life purpose. Don’t put it in your Top Ten. Don’t say, “One of the things I want in life is loving relationships.” Make it number one!
Why does God say it’s all about love? Why does God say to make it your highest goal? Two reasons:
1. God says love is what life is all about. 1 Corinthians 13:3 in the Message paraphrase ”No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.” Who wants to be a millionaire? You can have a million dollars but if you don’t have love God says you’re bankrupt. It is amazing to me that too often we act like loving relationships are something we have to squeeze into our schedule, that we have to find time for quality time, that we have to make time for people in our lives. That we have to just fit them into our lives as if loving relationships are an important part but just another important part along with many other things. Wrong! God doesn’t say that relationships are a part of your life. God doesn’t say that loving relationships are an important part of your life. God says loving relationships are your life. That’s what life is all about. It’s all about love.
One day a guy comes to Jesus and says, “I need Cliff Notes on the Bible. Summarize the Bible for me.” Jesus says, “Here it is. Love God and love other people. That’s it”. “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” In a word, Jesus is saying the point of life is “relationships”. It’s not about achievement. It’s not about the acquisition of things. It’s about relationships. It’s not about elections and voting. If you miss that you miss the point of life. That’s the bottom line. What matters most is loving relationships.
If that’s true, why do we always allow our relationships to get the short end of the stick? When we get misfocused and overloaded we start skimming relationally. We fulfill all kinds of other commitments but we cut back on time with those we love. We don’t give our relationships the time, the energy and the attention they deserve because we’re too busy with what we think are more important pressing matters.
Why do we do that? Because we get busy. Because we get preoccupied. Because we get distracted with less important things. We focus on the urgent rather than on the important and I hope you know the difference. Not everything that’s urgent in your life is important in your life. As a result we spend all of our time focusing on making a living, getting the job done, finishing the work, paying the bills, making progress, accomplishing the goal as if that’s the point of life. It is not. The point of life, God says, is love. The point of life, God says, is relationship.
2. The other reason that God says you need to focus on it is it’s all that’s going to last. The only thing that’s going to last in your life is love. Everything else is eventually going to burn up. It’s going to decay, fall apart. 1 Corinthians 13:13 ”There are three things that will endure: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” If I were to ask you, “How many of you want to leave a legacy after you die?” You’d all agree. “How many of you want to make a difference with your life?” You’d all say yes. “How many of you would like to make a positive influence on this world that outlasts you?” You’re all on board with that.
God has shown us how to leave a lasting legacy. God has shown us how to make an enduring impression. Fill your life with love. He says “Faith, hope and love. These are the things that will endure and the greatest of these is love.” He’s saying love, not work, not wealth, not elected candidates is the key to a lasting legacy. It’s love.
We think it’s our achievements people are going to remember. I hate to tell you this but nobody’s going to remember your achievements. Five years from today nobody’s going to care what you’ve achieved. Every trophy or award you’ve ever earned is eventually going to be trashed. Remember all those trophies you got in Little League or Drama Club, Speech Club, bowling trophies. They’re all going to be trashed, all your trophies. You don’t have any of your grandparents’ trophies. Why would you want to keep those? You couldn’t care less about them. People don’t really care about your accomplishments. We know this. We just forget it.
We know this by watching people when they’re dying. In watching people of the closing moments of their life when they stand on the edge of eternity, they’re evaluating their life; you never hear of a single person saying, “Bring me my diplomas! I want to look at them one more time…Get me that gold watch I got for twenty-five years of service! Show me my awards. Show me my medals.” Nobody asks to be brought trophies because we don’t surround our lives with objects when our life is ending. What do we want around us when our life is ending? People! People who love us. People who have a relationship with us.
Here’s the point: You are eventually going to figure out in your final seconds that what matters are relationships. Why don’t you figure it out sooner? Why wait until you’re on your deathbed to figure out that things don’t matter. Elections don’t matter in eternity. That the only thing that matters is relationships. Nothing can take the place of loving relationships. Fame can’t. Wealth can’t. Success can’t. Success without love is empty, hollow, depressing. Life is not about achievement and it’s not about accomplishment. It’s about relationships. When you get to heaven God is not going to say, “Now what was your career? What did you accomplish in it? “ God is not going to say, “Can I see your bank balance and how much you’ve got in your portfolio.” God is not going to say, “By the way, what about the hobbies that you enjoyed while I put you down on earth?” He is not going to say, “What is that great cause you supported?”
What He’s going to say is, “How did you treat other people when you were here on earth?”
I suggest that from this day forward for the rest of your life when you wake up in the morning, you set down on the edge of the bed and before you get off that bed you pray this prayer, “God, whether I get anything else done today and I may not get anything else done, but if all I accomplish today is I spend some time with You and with others, I want to make sure today I spend some time loving You and loving other people,” because that’s what life is all about. If you miss that you have missed the point of life, and that day is a failure, that day is a waste.
The greatest use of life is not achievement. It’s love. The problem is we get busy and stressed out and so into things that don’t last and we forget what we intuitively know.
So what are you going to do about it? Are you going to change? Or are you going to stand before God one day and explain why things were more important than people? What excuse are you going to give for not putting first things first in your life? Who do you need to start spending more time with? Who do you need to reach out to? What do you need to cut out of your schedule? What financial sacrifice do you need to make for things that really count?
(Adapted from a message by Rick Warren)