BY CATHY SCHAEFER, GRACE ATTENDER
Most of us don’t particularly enjoy attending funerals. I might be weird, but I’ve reached the point in my life where I actually appreciate a good funeral. Don’t misunderstand--I don’t like or welcome death, especially a painful or tragic one. And by “good funeral,” I mean one that celebrates the life of a faithful Christian, who has, preferably, lived a long and fruitful life. “A good life.” Isn’t that what we all want? To live a good life? To be well spoken of and fondly remembered when we’re gone? To “fight the good fight,” glorify God, and finish strong?
I find it encouraging that when we gather for the funeral of a loved one, we tend to overlook the mistakes they made and the negative aspects of their personality. Instead, we focus on their good traits and review the positive contributions they made to the world. Maybe grief changes our perspective on life, as we seem more apt to notice where the light of Christ came shining through. Another benefit of a good funeral is that it serves to remind me that my days on this earth are numbered. It causes me to pause and reflect on how I want to be remembered, what I want my life to stand for, what will last after I’m gone…I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to live each day with “eternity in mind;” in fact, I fear I’m much too distracted by the world…but Psalm 90:12 advises, “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Because “a good life” doesn’t happen by accident. To make the most of our time, talents and resources, we need wisdom.
In my opinion, wisdom may be the most important key to living “a good life.” The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” The Bible talks about the importance of both knowledge and wisdom, but they are not the same thing. Basically, knowledge is information we have acquired, and wisdom shows us how to apply it. I like this definition from Charles Stanley: “Wisdom is the capacity to see things from God’s perspective and respond according to scriptural principles.” Regular Bible reading and study is essential in helping us to learn about God, but it doesn’t do us much good until we apply that knowledge. Unfortunately, it’s possible to have lots of knowledge without wisdom.
So, how do we make the most of our time? How can we grow in wisdom? Three suggestions . . .
Begin with the Fear of the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” The first step on the path to greater wisdom is to humble ourselves before our Sovereign God. To give Him the respect, reverence and honor He deserves. To submit to the authority of the Great I AM. To remember that one day we will stand before Him and give an account for the life we’ve lived. To recognize and acknowledge that nothing escapes His attention, everything belongs to Him, and all we have comes directly from His loving hand.
Practice Obedience. God is the source of all wisdom and truth, and His ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s wisdom is usually not in line with “worldly” wisdom, and may not seem logical to us. But it is imperative that we trust God to always have our best interests at heart. He loves us and knows better than we do what is truly good for us. Are we willing to trust completely in the Lord and follow wherever He may lead? The humility that comes from our fear of the Lord makes us teachable and willing to obey His commands. Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper, “Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them, and I will love them. And I will reveal myself to each one of them.” ~John 14:21
Pray for wisdom. God wants us to desire and seek after wisdom because it is so valuable. Proverbs 2:2-4 urges us to “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight and understanding. Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure.” God does not withhold good gifts from His children, but with the blessing comes the responsibility to use it well. He will grant us wisdom if we sincerely seek it and ask Him for it in prayer. James 1:5-6 says, “If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
Yes, God cares about how we spend the money He provides for us, and we need to seek His wisdom on those decisions. However, financial gifts are but one of many blessings He gives. I believe He cares just as deeply about how we spend our time, talents, energy and love—just to name a few. Time is short. How are we spending our lives? When the day comes for us to meet Jesus face-to-face, will we wish we had done more for Him?
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.” ~James 3:13
Questions for Reflection
If my life ended today, what regrets would I have? What steps can I take to address those?
What do I hope people will say about me at my funeral? What are the character traits that I want to be remembered for?
What are some of the gifts and resources that God has generously provided for me? How am I using them to bring honor, glory and praise to Him?
Do I want more wisdom? What is one step I can take to seek God’s wisdom for a good life?
Prayer and Meditation
Praise the Lord!
Happy are those who fear the LORD.
Yes, happy are those who delight in doing what he commands.
heir children will be successful everywhere;
an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.
They themselves will be wealthy,
and their good deeds will never be forgotten.
When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in.
They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.
All goes well for those who are generous,
who lend freely and conduct their business fairly.
Such people will not be overcome by evil circumstances.
Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.
They are confident and fearless
and can face their foes triumphantly.
They give generously to those in need.
Their good deeds will never be forgotten.
They will have influence and honor.
The wicked will be infuriated when they see this.
They will grind their teeth in anger;
they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.