Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." --- James 4:13-15
The sudden death of Tim Russert, well known host of “Meet the Press,” has been dominating news events for days since it happened. There have been some minor distractions such as a couple of teams known as Lakers and Celtics doing battle, Tiger Woods’ win of the U. S. Open, antics of some entertainment celebrity, the legality of the “Queen of Mean” in leaving 12 million dollars to her dog, etc.
A host of tributes has been issued, proposals to memorialize Russert in different ways have been made and endless discussions as to his success and effectiveness continue to take place here and there.
What is frequently forgotten in the midst of fame and fortune as well as on the part of the masses of unknowns who have neither fame nor fortune is this:
- we are sinful mortals each of which is under the sentence of death – Hebrews 9:27 quite bluntly tells us, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment..." And note also the details of sin being universal – a malady infecting the entire human race in Romans 3.
- we are prone to take much in life for granted such as expressed in Psalm 49:11 - "Their inner thought is that their houses will continue forever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names." Notice the rather common attitude of one fellow who said to himself, "And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.'" (Luke 12:19).
- we each stand in need of redemption from our sins -- how more plainly stated can it be than this? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18).
- each of us has to choose where our focus is going to be during our life's journey – on Jesus Christ and what He has in mind for us as to the direction our life shall take or self-determined goals and career -- you know, the big "I" calls all the shots! Jesus spelled out success in terms of time and eternity by saying those who come to Him, listen and do what He says are like a wise man who built a house on a foundation of rock, but those who refuse to listen and do not do what He says are like a foolish man who built a house on a foundation of earth – when the storms came and beat upon both houses – one stood and one collapsed – can you guess which one weathered the storm and survived? The lesson is clear – failure to take Jesus Christ and what He has to say seriously with commitment will always result in disaster! See details at Luke 6:47-49
- each of us will ultimately face Him and our eternal destiny will be determined by Him. We will hear Him saying one of two possible statements to us:
It will either be:
"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'" (Matthew 25:23).
Or it will be
"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:23).
The wise person will live in this present world in such a manner that when his/her time on earth is terminated he/she can say the same as did an apostle named Paul:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7, 8)
And when people refer to your passing from time into eternity the highest tribute that can be made is a simple phrase as was said of Abraham – “And he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23).