A few years ago I was privileged to be in the company of a missionary who had just returned home after many years in a very difficult field. He described the people to whom he had carried the gospel as being in a constant struggle to survive. Their lives were threatened daily by disease, accidental injuries that became life threatening because of a lack of medical attention, starvation, and enemy tribes who plundered and killed. He said, “When I come home, I am amazed that most people, even Christians, are so concerned about such trivial things. Life and death issues are a reality every day in the land where I work. There is no place for trivial things.”
In recent days in America, there has been an awakening to reality. The worries and deep concerns of the days before September 11th now appear so insignificant. News stories that filled the headlines are now not considered to be worthy of mention. Sudden death has a message that unstops deaf ears. No one has been left unmoved by the tragedies that have struck so close to home.
As believers, have we too been overly occupied with things of time that are empty and trivial in the light of eternity? The mistake of the rich man of Luke 12:16-21 was that he thought time and this life were everything. He looked at time in the light of time. Do we look at time in the light of eternity?
We apply this in the gospel, and rightly so, but how solemn that the Lord Jesus made the application to His disciples. “He said to his disciples …Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on … For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things, But rather seek ye the kingdom of God” (Luke 12:22, 30-31, KJV). As messengers of the cross, we need to take advantage of the opportunity for witness that has been granted to us in these tragedies. Many people of the world have discovered that their lives are empty and meaningless. Many realize that the thousands who died were people just like themselves, who went to their work that Tuesday morning with their minds full of the minor problems of home, family, and work. How could any of them have known that in a few hours they would be in eternity? Are we, as believers, fully aware that around us every day are countless souls that are only a heartbeat from eternity? Can we be occupied with the trivial things of life when heaven or hell for eternity is the great issue for precious souls?
I have preached to people in a gospel meeting who were only minutes from eternity. I did not know it, nor did they. If I had known, would I have been more real, more earnest, and more faithful? I have talked to unsaved people who were on the very brink of eternity, but they did not know it. Should we not see every soul we meet as a priceless person who needs to be rescued from the fire? Are we only playing games, or do we really believe that a most vital purpose of our lives is “to rescue the perishing?” “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matt 24:33, KJV). “It is high time to awake out of sleep for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom 13:11, KJV).