Let’s begin with this shocking headline: “America’s favorite Valentine’s Day candy is unavailable this year.” Necco, the original producer of Sweethearts candy, went out of business last July. The candy’s new owner promises to have the candy back on shelves next year.
I wish this were the only bad news in the news.
New York legislators approved a bill this week protecting abortion in case the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. There was loud cheering in the New York State Senate chamber when the bill passed.
The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, allows non-physicians such as licensed midwives, physician assistants, and licensed nurse practitioners to perform abortions. It expands late-term abortions and could compel doctors to perform abortions or risk losing their license to practice.
Meanwhile, details are emerging about Zephen Xaver, the man who allegedly killed five people inside a SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida, two days ago. His ex-girlfriend has told reporters that Xaver had an obsession with guns and death. “He was pretty open about the fact that he wanted everybody to die. All he talked about was killing people,” she said.
When you read stories like these, don’t you feel an urge to do something to help? Something to protect unborn children and victims of senseless crime? Something to make the world better than we found it?
“What counts in life”
Nelson Mandela: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
How do we make such a “difference”?
There is a God-given quest for significance in every human heart. But this is a hunger no food on earth can satisfy. That’s because significance is not the result of success.
In Genesis 24, an unnamed servant of Abraham found Rebekah and introduced her to Isaac. She would become the mother of Jacob, who would become the father of twelve sons, who would become the fathers of the “twelve tribes of Israel.”
In Exodus 2, an unnamed daughter of Pharaoh rescued the baby Moses from the Nile River. In Acts 23, an unnamed nephew of Paul exposed a plot to kill him.
Imagine the world without the nation of Israel, or the work of Moses, or the ministry of Paul.
When Jacob died in Egypt, his family of seventy people (Genesis 46:27) was but a minuscule part of the mightiest nation on earth. When Moses died on the edge of the Promised Land, his Jewish people were unknown to most of the world. Even Paul at his death could not know how his letters would be read and used twenty centuries later.
Significance is seldom obvious at the time. But it always counts in eternity.
How to be significant
Walking in our neighborhood yesterday morning, my attention was drawn to three celestial bodies.
The moon had clearly recovered from the meteorite that struck it during Monday’s total lunar eclipse and was brilliantly lighting the predawn sky to the west. To the east, Venus and Jupiter were on bright display.
An uninformed observer might think that each was the source of its light. Of course, planets and moons in our solar system merely reflect the light of the sun.
Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). His syntax indicates that every one of us is included in this remarkable description. “Are” shows that this is a present-tense fact, not a future-tense hope or speculation. “The” shows that we are the world’s only light.
However, our Lord also stated, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Which is it–Jesus or us?
He clarified in John 9:5: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Now that he has returned to the Father, we are responsible for reflecting his light into our dark culture.
How do we do this most effectively? Let’s learn some lessons from my early-morning walk.
“The golden rule for your life and mine”
The moon, Venus, and Jupiter reflected the sun’s light because their relationship to the sun was unimpeded. If Earth or another celestial body came between them and the sun, their light would be blocked.
However, the intensity of their light on Earth was in direct proportion to their distance from the darkness they illumined. Venus is three and a half times larger than the moon but 678 times farther from our planet. Jupiter is 718 times larger than the moon but 7.5 times farther from us than Venus.
Consequently, the moon’s reflected light was far more brilliant than theirs. As Jesus noted, when a lamp is put on a stand, “it gives light to all in the house” (Matthew 5:15).
Two questions follow: Are you focused on Jesus? Are you using your influence to make a difference for him?
Oswald Chambers: “The golden rule for your life and mine is this concentrated keeping of the life open towards God. Let everything else–work, clothes, food, everything on earth–go by the board, saving that one thing.”
Nothing we do for Jesus can be significant. We cannot convict people of sin or save souls or change lives. But everything we do with Jesus is eternally significant, whether the world knows it or not.
“The light shines in the darkness”
Leo Tolstoy: “The only significance of life consists in helping to establish the kingdom of God.”
To that end, ask the Holy Spirit to show you anything in your life that is obstructing the light of Christ, then confess whatever comes to your thoughts. Now pray for God to help you live for his glory rather than your own and serve others rather than yourself.
Whether the world knows your name or not, your Father will make your life significant today and for eternity. Here’s how we know: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
It never will.
NOTE: When people turn to YouTube for answers, Denison Forum is there offering a biblical perspective. You’ll find clear answers to hard questions in a new series of videos called “Biblical Insight to Tough Questions.” We invite you to watch the videos and share them with others.