By Annette Bittner, Bethel Seminary St. Paul
We have often heard it said, “Life is short.” That statement could lead us to be more daring or short circuit our drive to do anything that would make our lives shorter.
What I want to say is the opposite of playing it safe or taking risks. Life is to be lived. Storing it up in expectation for that “coming day” is not good stewardship when we do nothing with it in the meantime. When we choose not to invest the life we have been given, while waiting for glory, we become like the servant who buried his talent instead of investing it (Matthew 25).
I believe God expects us to live the life He has entrusted to us and when it is finished, to bring as an offering the fruit of the investment we have deposited into others. Here is what I want to say about making a worthy investment in the lives of others and challenge us to answer the simple questions that follow for ourselves.
I have heard a dear friend quote numerous times, “When you know who you are then you know what to do.” Jim Olson is a man who has lived this statement out in his life and ministry as he has placed value on his relationships with people.
I recently completed the StrengthsFinder’s assessment and learned that one of my strengths is Developer. I will develop anyone who wants to grow. Learning who God has made me to be and the gifts I bring to the table makes it easy for me to produce good work in the lives of others. Who are you and what do you bring to the lives of others?
People are a worthy investment
I believe in order to invest in people, we need a healthy mindset concerning the impact we can have on others. This kind of good work is not just for the missionary. This worthy investment is for all of God’s people to partake in so others can see their value.
God is everywhere and where His people are, there is the potential for His Kingdom to be released through us. God is in the market place, God is in the church, God is in the dance studio, God is in the court room.
We should hold nothing back to the end of our days
In Tim Keller’s book Every Good Endeavor, he shares the story “Leaf by Niggle” written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Niggle is a painter who sees something of another reality and desires to create art from what he has imagined. He knew that one day he would have to go on a long journey but put it off to work on his art piece. Niggle got little done because he chose to help others which took time away from completing his project.
Niggle did not put his life on a shelf in hopes of finishing his masterpiece, nor did he stop living it simply because he knew death (a long journey) was looming in the distance. Niggle’s vision for a completed art piece gave such a beautiful hope to how he served others; it was his eternal inspiration.
Later in the story we learn that although Niggle did not complete his art piece on earth, he saw the reality of it complete and thriving in his real home. Niggle held nothing back to the very end of his days, even though he did not see the fruit of his work in his lifetime. We are made to do the same and to hold nothing back even if we do not see how our investment pays off. Is there any area of your life where you are holding back from investing into another?
It is important to finish well
We cannot give up on our dreams. We are uniquely made to help the people of the world believe and hope. What would it be like to live our lives until we are completely spent and have nothing left to give? Some would say it is crazy and it is better to work hard while young then enjoy doing nothing in retirement.
However, I think of the story of Jacob in Genesis 49:33. When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people. Jacob was 147 years old when he died. He finished well, and we can too!
Let’s invest in people for the rest of our days in the way God has made us to. We can have confidence that when we do, we will have lived a life completely spent – holding nothing back.
Image © Annette Bittner