One of the things that had me pondering vanity this year was the number of friends and relatives that I hold dear who have been having a hard look at their own mortality. So far, though many have been gravely ill, miraculously none have died. But the potential of losing so many this year has set me to thinking about that separation we suffer when we do lose someone. When they die we feel a loss of relationship with them. Why? It is because we are but a vapor, like grass we are still subject to vanity while they have finally succumbed to it. An elderly grandmother has a bad fall, a friend has a ruptured artery, a faulty heart valve, atrial fibrillation, a cancer, an accident and they can be GONE. A trivial event, a nothing, and that can be all it takes and we are done here. I know, I’m going to be as popular as a life insurance salesmen if I keep this up, but I recently read somewhere it is common for men my particular age to start considering their own mortality, so I have that as an excuse I guess.
That realization of mortality has a way of fixing our mind on what “really” matters, what we will leave behind, or more precisely what our heritage is. I have wrestled with this most of my adult life as my 5 children have all went on ahead of me, I won’t be leaving any of them behind. In the sense of an earthly heritage I look to my brothers and sisters in Christ and their children and realize that I can bless them, but I know that there is more. I have a spiritual heritage. That kingdom I referred to last time is the chief example of that spiritual heritage. We have a heritage in Christ, we are His inheritance:
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
While we can get distracted by the vanity that surrounds us we need to realize it’s irrelevance in the face of His inheritance. I say it over and over again, none of any of this matters, only the people matter. Things don’t matter, the only “stuff” that is going to survive is going to be those things built upon the foundation of Christ Jesus, everything else is going away.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
The only thing that isn’t a passing vapor is Jesus Christ and whatever is found in Him, covered by the blood and conformed to the likeness of His death.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Instead of clinging to the stuff that we hope will make for us a heritage we need to be able to see past the death, realizing in faith, what Paul said:
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
The foundation He gave us on the Cross, that Tree of Life, IS our inheritance! We no longer have to be subject to that vanity that consumes all of our efforts. We no longer have to live nonsensical, meaningless, hedonistic, selfish, nihilistic, and materialistic lives. We can put them on the Tree with our old selfish nature and then we can wait for their expiration date, when all of that death is swallowed up in victory. Corruption itself will expire:
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For now, I can focus on His kingdom being made present within me. I can focus on building on His foundation everything that will not be consumed, His people and His inheritance. That old man still needs to die daily, because their is nothing he does better than contaminating everything he touches with the death that is all over him. Laying him down ( he is in league with the thief) means I get to have life more abundantly:
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
Like the foundations on that lighthouse, even though the waves are raging around it and the fact that it is submerged in water we know that they are there and we know that they are holding. It’s not in the seeing of those foundations but in the observation of those things which are built on them. The fact that the building holds up against the storm that is vainly pounding against it is evident to every sailor who sets their course by its light.