Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.—1 Corinthians 13:13
I read something recently that got me thinking: Giving up some of the things we enjoy or desire can seem like a sacrifice, but when we get to heaven and see things in proper perspective, we’ll be ashamed that we didn’t make those little sacrifices more cheerfully.
Even now I feel bad, remembering little jobs I weaseled out of, arguments that I had to have the last word in, times I was sure to get the biggest piece of the pie. I’m beginning to see how temporary those things were and that the things that have really counted were the times I gave up a few minutes of my downtime to help someone out, the times I let a mean comment pass without answering back, the times I helped someone save face, and the times I saved that biggest piece of pie for someone else—in short, the times I gave when I could have taken or when I made the day a little better for someone. It doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice anymore, giving up these inconsequential things, when I consider that I’m investing in forever.—Michael
Out of this life I shall never take
Things of silver and gold I make.
All that I cherish and hoard away
After I leave, on earth must stay.
Though I have toiled for a painting rare
To hang on my wall, I must leave it there.
Though I call it mine and I boast its worth
I must give it up when I quit the earth.
All that I gather and all that I keep,
I must leave behind when I fall asleep.
And I wonder often what I shall own
In that other life, when I pass alone.
What shall they find and what shall they see
In the soul that answers the call for me?
Shall the great Judge learn, when my task is through
That the spirit had gathered some riches, too?
Or shall at the last it be mine to find
That all I had worked for I’d left behind?
—Edgar A. Guest
Some people spend so much time and energy trying to make themselves attractive and perfect their bodies, but they neglect their inner selves, the unique and eternal spirits that God gave them. This is short-sighted, because in time their bodies, their mere outer covers, will be no more. What matters the most is what’s inside, your spirit. Jesus would prefer that you devote more of your time to activities that beautify your soul. The love of Jesus is what will bring true contentment and make you glow. Your body is an outer covering that is only for a time, but your spirit will last forever. When you invest in your spirit, you’re investing in eternity.
A quote hanging in Albert Einstein’s office read, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” In other words, a lot of the things you do in a day or week can’t be “counted.” I’m talking about things like time spent in prayer, energy spent pouring into the children, doing what you can to invest in the mission, or forgoing something that you wanted to do in order to sacrifice for someone else. They’re not things that you can tick off of your to-do list—and yet they are vital, defining moments.
We must be sure to always keep in the forefront of our minds that love is the most important thing. If we don’t have love, all of our ticked-off to-dos, all of our great accomplishments, will be of no benefit. The number-one priority is and always should be love! If you can go to bed at night knowing that you have shown love, then you can rest well, knowing that you’ve accomplished something truly great.
Jesus has seen everything that you have ever done for others, and He hasn’t forgotten any of it. He is like a faithful accountant, and He makes note of all these things in His book. Every kind word, every bit of love, and every unselfish deed is entered into His book. He also sees every affliction, every hardship, every wrong you endure, and every trying of your faith. These are also recorded in His book. In all of these things, you have been investing in eternity. You don’t realize how much you have invested or how much interest your investment is earning for you. In the day of accounting, when He tally’s the books and you sees how much you have stored up in the next life, you just might be surprised at the rewards that await you!
The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?” So he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 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.”’ But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.—Luke 12:16–31
It’s been wisely said that life on earth is a testing ground and a learning experience, and with Jesus as your guide and coach, you will be successful in this life. Your success may not always look like success as it is popularly perceived, but you will be successful in the things that matter, the things that count, the things that last beyond this life and into eternity.