The Life That Counts
Watching the offering plate come my direction, I pondered which bill to drop in the plate. I had three $1 bills and a twenty. I always found this part of the service so uncomfortable. I mean, how was this money used anyway? How did I know for sure it was going to the right cause in the organization? Besides, I had to think of what I needed that twenty for.
As the plate passed, I finally placed in the three $1 bills and pocketed the twenty. I am pretty faithful in my tithe, I thought. Besides, this offering thing is optional.
It was several nights later that I had a strange dream. I wanted to chalk it up to those late-night nachos, but it was a haunting dream.
Christ had come for His own, and what a wonderful reunion with loved ones and friends. Accompanied by countless angels, this vast company was winging their way through galaxies that were beautiful beyond description. There were people of all races, ages, spanning the history of the earth.
I began to visit with those around me. To one young man, I said, "Can you tell me, how was your life lived on earth? I see your beautiful robe has a border of red."
"I was a part of a large family, and we all gave our lives to Jesus. We lived during the cruel Catholic inquisition, and we had to flee from our home and hide in the mountains. As children we memorized the Bible, and then two by two we went forth to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We were ridiculed and rejected by most and finally I was turned over to the authorities and when I would not tell the location of my family, I was put on a rack and tortured to death.
"How awful!" I gasped. "Oh, no!" he said. I gladly gave my life for Jesus, and now all my family is here with me. It was more than worth the sacrifice."
I turned to a beautiful lady traveling beside me. How about you? She said, "I was raised in a wealthy family in England in the 17th century. When I got married, my husband and I sold all we owned and traveled to Africa to tell the people there about Jesus. All of our children but one died of disease, and, finally, my husband was killed and eaten by cannibals. I lived there for many years with the native people alone. My family and friends in England sacrificed their all to send me the things I needed. In the end, I died at the hands of the people I had come to serve."
Again, I gasped, "What a sacrifice, how could you give up all?" Quietly, she replied, "Sacrifice? It was nothing," she said, as she pointed to her husband and children, then to a group of several hundred from their work in Africa. "It was nothing compared to the rewards of eternity."
"And you? Please, tell us of your experience on earth."
I thought of my struggle with the offering that day, of my preoccupation with accumulating material things, of my miserly selfish methods of sacrifice to God and how I had hoarded what God had given me. Sacrifice? What was it anyway? Did I really know?
I hung my head in shame and could not reply. At that moment I awoke from the dream and realized this truth: Heaven would be a happy place only to those who give their all for Christ here on earth.