The Only Thing That Matters

By James Brown Jr.

“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” — James 4:14

This week I went to the funeral of the father of one of my best friends in my youth.  It was one of those events that causes you to pause and consider reality—the reality of an aging life; the reality of a fleeting life; the reality of a fragile life.

It has been thirty years since the closeness of our teenage years when we were full of dreams and youthful optimism.  Life had separated us to different ambitions but this week we returned to the location where we had shared a wonderful friendship growing up in Brown County, Indiana.

In the midst of the sorrow and mourning the loss of his father, we had the opportunity to remember and to catch up on some of the transitions of life—marriage, children, careers, the state of our society but most importantly the work of God in our lives.

After all is said and done there is only one thing that matters in life.  The Shorter Catechism captures this vital truth in the question, “What is man’s chief end?”  The answer simply states, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

While this is not a deep statement it summarizes the purpose of life.  We average around 70 years in this world and it is all summarized in 7 words.  Anything less or more is of no significance.  These 7 words is all that matters.

Our lives are a vapor and when they throw dirt on our face no one will be talking about the possessions we accumulated or the pleasures we enjoyed.  It is our faith that will be the topic of discussion because nothing else matters.  As great as Metallica’s music sounds, they were wrong when they sung Nothing Else Matters:

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don't just say
And nothing else matters

When they eulogize you, what will be the topic of conversation?  Will it be a conversation about your faith and the impact of the Gospel in your life; will it be the difference you made in the lives of others for the glory of God?  Or, will it be a sad and haunting discussion how you wasted your life chasing wealth, pleasure or prestige?

I am thankful my friend and I were able to talk about his father’s faith in Christ and the impact he had on his family for the glory of God.

To those in the youthful optimism of their life let me encourage you to hear the words of the preacher in Ecclesiastes 12:1 who proclaimed almost 3,000 years ago, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”

Do not say you have all of life to consider these things after you have experience all life has to offer. 

First, the only thing life has to offer is the curse brought upon the world through original sin.  We live in a world of death and destruction because of man’s rebellion against God.

Second, life is but a vapor.  It seems eternal when you are young but in a split second you will turn around wondering where life has gone.  It goes by so quickly and we are not guaranteed what shall be or even if it shall be tomorrow.

Third, sin will deceive you.  You may intend to control it so as to experience some of its pleasures but it’s pleasure soon turns to bondage and destruction.  We have been warned many times that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”

To those who have reached the time of life when the end is fast approaching, do not think all is lost.  You may have wasted much or most of your life but God is able to save.  No matter how dark, no matter how hopeless and even if it looks impossible the prophet Isaiah declared, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1).

The good news is a movement begun 2,000 years ago when God, according to His eternal decree, sent forth His Son to reconcile the world unto Himself.  The first Adam was weak and could not bring forth the righteous works of God.  This is why sin fills your heart and proceeds from it.  As has been said, “You are not a sinner because you sin but sin because you are a sinner.”

Sin was imputed unto us through our father Adam but thank God there is a second or last Adam, Jesus Christ, who lived righteously and His righteousness is imputed unto all who believe in Him.  Those who are spiritually born again through the Word of God by the power of God’s Spirit are given the promises of God’s Covenant of Grace.  What this means is that the sin and death we received from Adam is replaced with obedience and life from Jesus Christ.

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned… For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” —Romans 5:12, 15

Is God calling you to trust in Christ for the remission of your sins?  Look to Christ and live!

“May God give all of you grace to repent, and to embrace the salvation which is revealed in the gospel!” —Charles Spurgeon