“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
IF YOU ARE LIKE ME, YOU LIKE TO READ MANY DIFFERENT THINGS, SOME MORE IMPORTANT THAN OTHERS. But what if you knew that you only had a short time to live? What would be on your reading list? You’d probably dispense with the trivia and use your remaining time reading (and rereading) what was most important.
It seems to me that life is like a reading list. Whereas a reading list contains books to read, life contains things to do. And the question is: what do we do first? And with a limited time, a second question arises: what should be done and what left undone?
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And He also said, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:18). Our outward lives are the natural product of our inward lives. Whatever is most important to us, that is what we will think about. And whatever we think about, that is what will govern our outward activities.
So if our activities are concentrating too much on this life and too little on the life to come, it’s because our hearts are set on this life. There is no use denying the truth: it’s our passion that sets our agenda. Even with limited time, we always find the time to work on whatever our hearts are set on. The only lasting way to change our activities, then, is to change our hearts. When we’ve learned to love higher things, working on them won’t be a problem.
There is an old adage that says, “Nothing concentrates a preacher’s mind like the going down of the sun on Saturday evening.” If a preacher has been toying with several ideas for his Sunday morning sermon, the realization that the pulpit is only a few hours away tends to clarify his mind. And similarly, when we see life’s sun setting and we know our time is running out, we tend to see what’s important more clearly. But in truth, we don’t have to wait until old age or a dire doctor’s report. We can concentrate on what’s most important right now. We can, to use Paul’s expression in Colossians 3:2, set our minds “on things above.”
“I have lost a world of time! Had I one year more, it should be spent in perusing David’s Psalms and Paul’s Epistles. Mind the world less and God more” (Claudius Salmasius).