They say the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. That is, the example we set is often picked up by those closest to us: children, employees, friends, even strangers who come along our path. We like to think we live our own life but truthfully, our way of living has impact on others.
That was the case of a rich man who died and went to hell. It’s a story Jesus told in Luke 16. Jesus says the once rich man, “In hell, where he was in torment, looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” Abraham reminded the rich man of the good things he enjoyed in life while Lazarus endured the bad, but now Lazarus is comforted but the once rich man is in agony. Abraham reminded him that the gap between heaven and hell cannot be bridged. So the once rich man desperately pleaded, “Then I beg of you…send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so they will not also come to this place of torment.” Abraham replied that since they didn’t listen to Moses and the prophets, “they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (V 31)
Our lives, when lived in truth and integrity and sold out to Jesus, influence others to follow him with all their hearts, if they’re inclined to listen. It’s also sobering to think of the people who continue to live in the danger of this world’s mindset who’ve been influenced by our lesser neglectful ways. Can you even imagine dying and learning too late that life is not just a game, that there is another life of either great joy or despair? Wouldn’t you want to warn your family and friends, the ones you really care about?!
Alas, there are three “end times” when it will be too late to speak or to listen:
1. The end of your life, when your sphere of of influence cannot reach them.
2. The end of their life that often comes too soon, when they can no longer benefit from your counsel and love.
3. The end of time when Jesus returns to separate those who chose to be eternally lost from those who chose to be eternally found.
Today is the day for each of us to consider what voices we are listening – and responding – to. And consider also, what message our life conveys to those around us. We have this one day, today, to let God influence others through the way we live and what our actions convey to be most important. They’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Today, while there is still time, speak the truth in grace. Encourage someone who is overcome with despair. Feed someone who is hungry, literally or hungry for a purposeful life.
Listen well and live well…while there is still time.