Guess What? You Can Take It With You!

Despite what most people say and think, you really can take it with you when you die.  It all depends, of course, on your definition of it.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

The ancient Egyptian pharaohs literally tried to bring it all with them as they built huge tombs like the pyramids to house not only their material wealth, but their loved ones and even their pets.  Ouch, if you happened to still be alive and a loved one when the pharaoh died.  History shows us how unsuccessful their attempts to take it with them were as the tombs were found and plundered–often within a generation of the particular pharaoh’s death.

In the New Testament, Jesus tells a parable saying, the land of a rich man was very productive.  And he began reasoning to himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’” Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”  (Luke 12:16-21)

So if putting stuff away for when we die doesn’t work and constantly trying to add to what we now have doesn’t work, how can we take it with us?

Billy Graham tells the story of an old man, a great man of God as he lay on his deathbed.  He called for his grandson to come to his side.  Calling the boy’s name, he said, “I don’t know what type of work I will be doing in heaven, but if it’s allowed, I’m going to ask the Lord Jesus to let me help build your mansion.  You be sure to send up plenty of the right materials.”

We can’t take our money, our houses, our cars, our insurance policies–because we won’t need any of them there anyway.  It really consists of living a holy life, leading others to Christ as we share our faith, doing good works in Christ’s name–all these things can be sent on ahead and can never be touched by the fluctuations in the earthly economy, by natural disaster, or by thievery.

So what kind of materials are you sending up to heaven?  And in what kind of mansion will you live when the building process in completed?

Think You’re Good? Check That Pile of Smelly Rags.

Many of us have taken missionary trips to various parts of the world–particularly so-called third world areas where cleanliness and hygiene are major problems in the spreading of disease and sickness.  People live and eat from what we would call dumps or landfills.  We are typically appalled and do what we can to help to improve the natives situation while we are there.  We may even send money and needed items throughout the year.  Make no mistake, this is a good thing.

However, we could take all of those times we went on those trips, add in all our tithes and offerings, consider the ministries in which we’ve been active, count all our visitations to shut-ins and prisons, include our church attendance and all our time of prayer and, compared to God’s righteousness, all our efforts would be no better than a pile of stinking rags. We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (Isaiah 64:6)

This doesn’t mean that what we do as Christian work is unimportant.  It’s just that, in God’s big picture, it doesn’t amount to much.  His glory and righteousness so far supersedes our own that the comparison makes our efforts look far less than glorious.  Sometimes we get it into our heads that what we do is getting checked off on some big list of good things, when instead what we should realize is that we are simply doing what we are supposed to as children of God.  And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not.  In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’ (Luke 17:9-10).

Do the good works count?  Of course they do.  But they should come as a natural expression of God’s glory working through you rather than what some perceive as an expression of man’s innate goodness.  And the more of Him that shines through and the less of you that comes forth, the better for His Kingdom–both now and for eternity.

For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. (Matthew 16:27)

” I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel  30  will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.  (Mark 10:29-30)

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:27)

Not bad for a pile of smelly rags.  But only because Jesus’ righteousness turns them to purest white and makes them heaven scented.