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Whole-sum Living

Posted: 2/23/19 at 8:20am. Column by Ed Jordan.

As one gets older there is a tendency to evaluate one’s life, beliefs, values, and indeed, the merit of all these things.

Some of us spend a lot of time evaluating these things, and a few of us have the audacity to share some of our insights and ideas with others who might be wondering about the same things we are. This column is an expression of one such thought.  

Recently I heard a great presentation about how to retire well. As a person who is financially in no position to even speculate about retirement, and may never be in such a position, I found the subject both depressing and enlightening.

It is discouraging to think that retirement depends upon a place to live, income for bills, utilities, rent, medicines, food, etc. for an indeterminate length of time. I will have to work to have any of those things, as most of us do.  

On the other side of the coin, none of us ever think that we have enough money to retire. If we wait to retire until we know we have enough money to retire, we will die before deciding to take the risk.

Yet people retire all the time. Most people somehow find a way to survive. If life is only about having enough money to retire, most of us are in a heap of trouble.

When a person approaches the “time of decision,” it also becomes a time of soul searching.

What do I have to show for my life of labor, sacrifice, commitments, and actions?

What do I have to show for my life of labor, sacrifice, commitments, and actions? Is monetary wealth the most important indicator, or result, of someone who has lived a wonderful, full, and productive life?

Of course the answer to the monetary aspect, is “no;” one’s wealth is not the evidence of God’s blessing or that one lived a wholesome life.

Jesus emphatically taught that our life’s value is not found merely in the possessions or wealth that we have. In Luke 12:15 (NLT) Jesus said: “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

So what are the real indicators of a life well lived, well invested, and well managed? When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10) our life will first be evaluated based upon what we have done with Jesus.

Did we ask Jesus to forgive our sins and commit ourselves to live for him as we respond in love to God’s grace? Whether or not you have a personal relationship with Jesus is the first evaluating criterion. The second is whether or not you lived your daily life in loving obedience to what Christ asked you to do.

Frankly, this will be the shame of most of us as we stand before the throne of God: Did I live my life for Jesus or for myself? I would guess that most of us, although we might claim we live for God, really live for ourselves.

Where do we spend most of our money? On God or on ourselves? Do we spend more time serving God or serving self? Do we seek first what God wants us to do, or go and do our own thing and ask God to “bless it?”

Do we seriously think that proof of our love for God will be convincing when the evidence is that we came to worship God at Easter, and at Christmas, and to spend all the other Sundays on the water or in the mountains? Do we spend more time on sports or on getting to know God better?

But the real question is not how many times we did something. The real test is: did we do what we did out of love for God? Both Jesus and Paul declared that all the law and commands of God are summed up (the whole sum, another meaning for wholesome) in what Jesus called the first and second commandments.

In Matthew, Jesus was asked, What is the greatest commandment of God? Jesus’ answer in Matthew 22:37–39 (NLT) is: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “

Loving God with everything we have—and loving others like ourselves—are two pillars that become the whole sum of a wholesome life.  Do these, and you will have no regrets when it comes time for your ultimate “retirement.”    

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.