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Perspective: Jewels or Oranges?

Recently our oldest son, Ayden, has been fascinated with the Titanic. He can’t seem to get enough information about it, wanting to know how it was built, how big it was, and the details of its demise. He’s purchased books on the Titanic and watched documentaries.

As Kensi and I discussed one of the most dreadful accidents of the mid-Atlantic with Ayden, I thought about the passengers who departed on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. They probably left without the slightest thought that it may be their last voyage on this earth, especially since the press billed it to be “unsinkable.” They carried on with the luxuries that the largest passenger liner of its time provided. However, when the Titanic struck the iceberg and water began to fill the vessel, perspectives changed about what was important and valuable. For in that very moment, death was on EVERYONE’s mind, no matter their socio-economic status. There is a story that I read years ago of a woman on the Titanic who was able to board one of the few lifeboats. Out of all the things she had in her stateroom, such as money and jewels, she grabbed three oranges. How quickly her values transformed in such a moment, to prefer oranges to that of jewels. But in her perspective, what good would those jewels do her even if she did survive? Sitting in that lifeboat amid the dark cold mid-Atlantic Ocean, the jewels wouldn’t provide any nourishment. Pre-disaster, the money and jewels were likely the most important and significant things she owned, yet they held NO value amid this disastrous situation. Oranges however, which previously seemed common and worthless, was then of great value and worth.

A couple of Sundays ago, I spoke on the topic of “living a successful and fulfilling life.” The sermon focused on our perspective of what it means to be successful. We readily provide strategies for achieving goals as it relates to succeeding here on earth (our voyage). But is achieving earthly goals truly what makes us successful in God’s eyes? Do we really know what makes for a successful life? Are we telling others and demonstrating in our own lives what truly makes for a successful and fulfilling life?

When defining success, we should keep the perspective of working our way back from the end. The END of OUR LIVES is DEATH (cf. Hebrews 9:27; 2 Cor. 5:10). What the Ecclesiastes writer even says in Eccl. 5:15: “As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand.”

I think when we keep this point of view that it helps us understand of what we REALLY WANT to be SUCCESSFUL in. It’s good to have a career, hobbies, and so forth, but if that is ALL that we work for, the only aim/goal that we have, what good will it do in the end? We can’t take it with us when we go.  We will only take our souls. In Luke 12:15-21, Jesus gives a bone-chilling parable of the rich man who spent his life focused on self and “gaining the world” (cf. Matt. 16:26), “building bigger barns,” at the very high cost of his own soul. God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12:20).

In society today people will spend all their time and resources building their hopes “on the ever-drifting sand, on their fame, their treasure, or their land” (as one of our songs says). They may gain much here on this earth, just as the rich man in Luke 12, but in the end, what did one really gain? The answer is NOTHING. At death, those things which were considered precious (worldly pursuits and possessions) will become worthless; and that which was considered worthless (God, the soul, the Bible, spiritual things) will have become of great value, importance and significance.

Paul understood this very well (cf. Phil. 3:1-11). Paul knew that TRUE SUCCESS in this life was about COUNTING EVERYTHING LOSS FOR CHRIST.  Those that boasted in their achievements, having confidence in the flesh, Paul calls “dogs, evil doers, mutilators.” Paul certainly had his own list of accomplishments, achievements, and gains in the flesh, referring to his life of Judaism. But rather than boasting of how great he was, Paul confesses how wrong he was. He realized that such was not of worth, value, or TRUE SUCCESS, because he was without Christ. All of Paul’s “successes” as Saul of Tarsus meant nothing. They held NO significance. He counted all these “successes” as loss as he saw through Christ-like eyes, because NOTHING else is of greater value than knowing Christ. Nothing in the flesh could bring the kind of joy and happiness that he had knowing Christ (cf. Matt. 13:44-46).

Paul told Timothy, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:6,7).

The Titanic was certainly a tragedy, but it doesn’t compare to the tragedy of those on their spiritual voyage in this life who are sinking in sin and may lose their soul that Jesus came to this earth to die for (cf. Rom. 3:23; 5:6-8; 6:23).

Ponder what you consider most important and significant right now. Think of those words with the rich man: “This night your soul is required of you.” Did the “jewels” (worldly things) become “oranges” (spiritual things) or was it always the “oranges”?

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26)

Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 😊

About Author

DJ Dickerson

Evangelist | La Porte Church of Christ

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