Tag Archives: start with the end in mind

A Useless Life

Have you ever considered what your epitaph might say? There are some pretty unique ones out there. There are some funny ones like Merv Griffin’s that says, “I will not be right back after this message.” Others are more sentimental expressing love for family. Some denote anger because they felt abandoned in their final days by those they loved. Epitaphs can be as unique as the individual, but one epitaph I have never seen reads, “Here lies a person who lived a useless life.” The truth is that what’s not done for eternity and others is often useless. The last thing I would ever want is to have lived my life only to get to Heaven and find out my life had been useless for God’s Kingdom.

The book of Titus is not a book most of us know well. However, in it Paul gives instructions on the importance of discipleship and teaching others how to live for God. In his closing statements, in Titus 3:14, Paul writes, “Our people must learn to spend their time doing good, in order to provide for real needs; they should not live useless lives” (GNT). One translation says, “unproductive lives.” God’s idea of a productive and useful life is one that helps others find Him, provides for the needs of others and brings people into a mature faith. I know that doesn’t encompass all of it, but Paul’s message to Titus was that he should be doing these things and helping other believers to do them as well.

1 Corinthians 3:13 says, “And the quality of each person’s work will be seen when the Day of Christ exposes it. For on that Day fire will reveal everyone’s work; the fire will test it and show its real quality.” That Fire will reveal whether we lived useful or useless lives. Every one of us will stand before Jesus on that day with our lives and the things we did presented to Him as an offering. Will the things you’re doing now survive that fire? We must live our lives with that fire in mind. There’s an old poem by C.T. Studd that reminds us, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” If you haven’t been living with the end in mind, you can start today and still have an offering that will survive that fire and show your life wasn’t useless.

Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

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Defining Qualities

Did you know that in every group of people you are a part of regularly, you are known for something? You have a personal brand that people identify you by. It can be a good brand or not in their eyes. You may be known as the funny person in the group, the wise one with all the answers, the one who keeps the group together, etc. Have you ever stopped to think how others define you? What qualities stand out to them? For many of us, this is a blind spot in our lives that we rarely get a glimpse into unless we ask or someone let’s us know. We usually think we are known for one thing, but others know us by something else.

Have you ever considered what you want to be known for? Have you thought about what you would want your epitaph to say? I know that sounds a bit morbid, but if you start with the end in mind, you can make changes now that will get you there. You can do things that improve certain qualities in your life so they become who you are. You can also do things to minimize other qualities that detract from who you’re trying to be. It all starts with recognizing what you’re known for now and what you want to be known for.

Proverbs 3:3 says, “Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you]” (AMP). The Bible recommends these three as things we should be known for. Do others consider you as a merciful person? Do they think you’re kind? What about truthful? If you want to improve your influence in other people’s lives, begin to cultivate these three qualities. Nurture them, give them room to grow and they will begin to define you. Every one of us are known for something by others. The more godly the qualities we’re known for, the easier it is to point others to Him.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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Planting The Right Seeds

My son and I planted a small vegetable garden in our yard. It continues to be a source of lessons to me and him. As we were eating dinner out recently, he pulled the lemon off my drink, pulled out the seeds and said, “Here you go, Dada. We can plant these and get lemons from our garden.” At first I was impressed that he made the correlation that seeds inside of fruits and vegetables are what grow and make the plants. Then, as I thought more about it, there was a deeper truth. Only lemon seeds can produce lemons.

That’s knowledge that you and I don’t think often about. We know it as a law of nature, but not as a spiritual law. We know that if we plant watermelon seeds, we’ll grow watermelons every time. But somewhere along the line, we think we can break that law with spiritual seeds. We think we can plant seeds of discontentment and somehow reap peace. Worse yet, we think we can skip out on paying tithes and reap the benefits of giving.

The same law that causes a physical seed to reproduce itself works in the spirit realm as well. What you sow, that shall you also reap. If you want more peace in your life, sow peace into the lives of others. If you want joy, put the work in to make it happen. The great thing about seeds is that when one is planted, several are reproduced. You rarely get a one to one ratio. One kernel of corn can produce a stalk that has several ears containing hundreds of kernels each. You won’t get the benefit of multiplication until you plant the seed where no one sees it.

In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” (NLT) He talks of giving just like planting seeds. I also like how the Message writes the first portion of this. It says, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back.”

Jesus is talking about sowing a reaping in the spiritual realm. You can’t plant the seeds of criticism and expect a return of praise. You can’t plant condemnation and receive blessings. If you want an easier life, go easy on others. It’s easier said than done, but once you understand the same principle that works for those lemon seeds my son gave me works in your life, things will begin to turn around. You’ll have to make a conscious effort to think about what you want in your life and then begin proactively planting those things in others.

Just like with plant seeds, you’re going to have to work the soil, water the seeds, pull the weeds and wait for the harvest. Just because you plant the right seeds today, it doesn’t mean you’ll reap the harvest you want tomorrow. It’s going to take time and effort on your part to reap the harvest. I can tell you that the more work you put into the process, the greater the harvest will be at the end. Don’t settle for a small harvest. Plant the right seeds, cultivate the soil they’re in and your harvest will come guaranteed. 

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