September 29, 2013: What Will Be Your Final Epitaph?

Let us pray: Dear Savior, our appreciation of Your blessings to us is much easier said than done. When we think of it, we pay lip service to our blessings; other times, when stressed, we focus on them a whole lot more. But most of the time we just take our many blessings for granted. Lord, today cause us to refocus and to truly take thankfulness for all that you give us to heart. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT!

TEXT: I Tim. 6: 6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Can you formulate, right now, 10 blessings from God that have shaped and molded you as a person while providing happiness and direction to your life? The other night, after supper, I was talking about this text with my wife. She posed that question to me. I spent the next 30 minutes giving her examples in my answer. At the end of it, I said: “Well, there are the 10 blessings.” To which she replied: “That was a lot more than 10!”

I

At the top of my list of blessings would be: God’s forgiveness for all my sins. Without that, what’s the point of living? Without forgiveness I would have no peace with God, no promise of His help and guidance, no courage to face the future, no certainty of a heavenly home in the face of death. For the Christian, blessings flow from knowing that even if everything else in life is awful, God will make it all work out for our best in the end because He loves us in Christ. Certainly, Christ’s death for us on the cross proves that and His resurrection to life confirms it!

My second blessing would be: reasonable health. Nothing can take you down, destroy your good cheer, and sour you on life more than pain. Chronic pain is a game-changer. It wears you down and turns appreciation of literally everything else in life up-side down. Doctors can manage pain, to a degree. But they cannot cure it. Something else is needed to assist and help us. Certainly the knowledge that our Lord suffered our pain on the cross gives us a comrade-in-arms when it comes to pain. Also, knowing He came out of it with a glorified body free from pain, helps too. As a Christian, knowing all this gives us hope and certainty that someday we will be free from pain, as well. The unbelieving world knows nothing of this and thus cannot cope with pain like you can.

My family is third on my list of blessings. As a human being, I need someone to love me, care about me, share with me, and a person who is not afraid to tell me the truth when I need to hear it. Or as Paul says elsewhere: “To speak the truth in love.” Loved ones round you out as a person. They help smooth the rough edges of pride and self-centeredness. Having someone whom you can totally trust with your heart and mind is a huge blessing.

Another blessing is: being needed. We all need to have a reason to get up each morning. Yes, I know, we have to work to live and to pay the bills to subsist. But true happiness and contentment are never achieved in life merely by paying the bills. More always come. As a believer, you make an eternal difference in all you do. Being a faithful spouse, a patient parent, an appreciative child, a busy worker, or a kind friend is a blessing. Having the opportunity each day to touch another’s life with God’s comfort and grace makes the angels rejoice, people glad, and your own heart happy. Giving all glory to God in how you speak and treat other souls honors Him. That’s another huge blessing.

Fifth on my list would be: satisfaction in everything I have and do. The people of darkness are never satisfied. They always strive for more and more and never take the luscious time to appreciate what they already have. Having the time to sit back and be thankful warms the soul, doesn’t it? Aren’t those moments special?

II

Another blessing is the gift of age. Now, I know that young people probably think I have 3 heads right now. We live in a youth-dominated culture. If you aren’t in your 20’s you don’t count to advertising execs. Likewise, children and teens are constantly told that they are living “in the best years of their lives.” If that is true, then why do so many turn to drugs and alcohol, suffer from depression, and generally are dissatisfied with life? The truth is: everyone hits a rough patch or two or three in life. It might go on for a few years. It will definitely grind you down. But age means you’ve lived through such times, learned from them, and know they won’t last forever. Age gives you patience in dealing with difficulties and perseverance in handling them without going to pieces. Age brings wisdom and perspective for the believer.

The 7th blessing is: having a good work ethic. One Christian I know once said: “I work for “God, Incorporated.” I like that. We all should actively work for God Incorporated. Everything we do should be our best at that moment in time because it all gives Him glory. I learned that concept of work from my Christian parents. I learned that nothing is beneath me. I learned that every task in life is important. Certainly a good work ethic is an active way to “let your light shine” isn’t it?

The 8th blessing which contributes to my contentment in life is: an active knowledge of right and wrong and the personal honor that stems from it. No human being can have a high level of inner honor apart from knowing God’s truth, specifically the commandments. Our sinful flesh loves to cut corners and bend the truth to shape our desires at the time. But then, after the fact, we think back, see the hurts we caused, and feel rather small because our actions were dishonorable. God’s Word provides an antidote to that. His Law serves as a wonderful guide which when followed means you won’t live with regret over having dishonored yourself and Him.

I suppose the next blessing would be God’s gift of my mind, my common sense, and my innate ability to grasp ideas and concepts and then to formulate them into some sort of solution when faced with a problem. Most of you know I can make decisions rather quickly. In my calling it saves a lot of time and helps propel others along toward a desired goal. That’s a gift God has given me and I value it.

The final blessing rounding out my top ten would be this: I really don’t lack for anything truly important. I’m not rich and probably never will be. Quite frankly, if money was my chief motivation then I’m in the wrong job! But, to paraphrase Paul in our text: I have good food to eat, a warm place to live, and personal possessions that bring me joy even if they aren’t worth a lot monetarily. No I don’t take big vacations or have a dream house on the seashore. No, my portfolio is not running over with profits. But, in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. I lack for nothing.

Go to any of our old graveyards and read the headstones. Those people often put epitaphs on their stones to give insights into their lives. So, WHAT WILL BE YOUR FINAL EPITAPH? I’ll stick with this one: “Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain. Amen