Byron, my wife’s grandfather, was 91 years old when he died. He was a venerable old soul. He was loved by many. I was there when they transferred him from the hospital to the hospice facility. Even though he was a successful life insurance agent who built a multi state practice, he found little comfort in his possessions or stock holdings in the end. Indeed, when the hospital packed up his belongings, they managed to fit in a single Wal-Mart plastic bag.
Steve & Becky had been on the field in Papau New Guinea for over 30 years. They’d given their life to a people not their own so that a few prized souls might be won for the Kingdom. As missionaries, they raised support all their lives. Occasionally, they returned to the United States to ask for support from churches and individuals for their gospel work.
When Steve & Becky finally returned from the field for good, their retirement accounts were sparse. Illness cut short their retirement years. They passed on only a few heirlooms to their children.
So who did well? Was one experience better than the other? I’m not the judge, but I know that regardless Byron and Steve & Becky ended in the same place. In the final analysis, their possessions mattered little. They could fit in a Wal-Mart bag.
Alas, the measure of our lives does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Is it so foolish to give when we know that we’ll depart this life empty handed? Surely not, if we know that treasure awaits us in heaven.
William F. High is the President/General Counsel of the Servant Foundation (www.servantchristian.com). Servant’s mission is to inspire, teach and facilitate revolutionary biblical generosity. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.