What is the greatest thing a man can leave behind on this earth? A fortune? A great and noble work that helped his fellow man and that people would later read about in the history books? What can a man leave behind that will endure? What is something a man can build that will outlive his works or his memory and says this life was worth the living? King Solomon, whom the bible records as the wisest and one of the wealthiest men that ever lived on the face of the earth struggled with this question. With melancholy overtones, Solomon pronounced that our efforts here on earth were meaningless, a chasing after the wind. For, as Solomon lamented, who knows if the wealth you accrue will go to a wise man or a fool 1. According to Solomon, the best we can hope for is to find satisfaction and pleasure in our toil here under the sun2. Everything else is meaningless. It’s a bit grim and a bit fatalistic, but think about it, beyond basic needs, what is the end result of our toils and sacrifices? You can’t take it with you and contrary to a popular belief “He who has the most toys when he dies does not win”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating living a life of indolence and pleasure because nothing we achieve really matters in the end. The new testament says: “If a man shall not work, he shall not eat.” 3 And that “we should work so that we will have something to give others.”4 But the focus of our lives and our work should be on heavenly things. Set your minds on things above where you are seated with Christ in heavenly places5 And “… Seek ye fist the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."6 We are called to give of ourselves to others. Husbands are to be as Christ and lay down their lives for their wives. Wives are to submit to their husbands and Christians are to submit to one another in love.
As husbands, this everyday life of laying down our lives for our wives should translate into denying ourselves and giving our time and mental focus to our wives and her needs. As fathers, this giving of ourselves should translate far beyond providing for our children’s basic needs or upgrades to those basic needs such as better clothes, toys, or living accommodations. Just like our wives, what our children need is for us to engage with them; ask them how their day is going, what they learned that day, what their desires are, what their frustrations are, and how Jesus fits into all the issues that they are having that day. Our children need to see their fathers modeling Christ’s relationship with the Church through their marriage covenant relationship with their mothers. This plants the seeds and begins to form an impression of the relationship that Christ wants to have with each one of them. And finally, we need to be in constant prayer for their relationship with Christ, before salvation and after salvation. One of the scriptures that Christ gave me related to praying for my children and their love relationship with Jesus was Mark 4:31-32 when Christ asked what the Kingdom of Heaven could be compared to:
"It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
So, when praying for my children, I have often prayed that He would draw them close to HIM and that they would come to love HIM with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength and that the relationship that they had with HIM would grow in the garden of their hearts until it was the largest tree of the garden, eclipsing anything else that might have taken seed there. And that their faith influence (branches) would be strong and provide shelter for others (birds of the air) so that others would be nurtured and grow in their faith and dependence on the Lord.
You see, I firmly believe that the greatest work a man can achieve on earth is participating with Christ as a co-laborer to intercede for those that do not know Christ, especially our children, and shepherd their souls from the temporal ephemeral existence on this spec of dust we call earth to an eternal glorious abode in heaven. This will outlast any work, any monument, any history, all memory, or any achievement a man can accomplish during his life on this planet. And this goal with its eternal rewards is worth the effort. Where is your time invested? What will be your lasting legacy?
1 Ecclesiastes 2:17-19
2 Ecclesiastes 2:24-25
3 2 Thessalonians 3:10
4 Ephesians 4:28
5 Ephesians 3:2, Ephesians 2:6
6 Matthew 6:33
By Stoner Bell