There once was a kind, generous and benevolent wealthy man. He had many interests and his business dealings had brought him much honor and fame. He was a humble man who credited his success to God and his family. People loved being with him because he treated them all the same. No one person was better than any other in his sight: whether rich or poor, employee or friend, they all received the same encouragement, the same attention.
This wonderful man had many children and he raised them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, training them to be independent in thought and deed. He disciplined them when necessary and insisted they make their own way in the world. He did not bail them out of scrapes that they got into, but watched over them as they struggled to get themselves straightened out. If they asked for advice, he was always there for them. And if they fell, he would help them pick themselves up and set them on the right path again.
As a result of his parenting style, he had several successful children. He also had the standard family dynamics everyone deals with. One of his sons was so rebellious against his father and everything he stood for that he rarely visited. However, always mindful that there was a reward waiting for him when his father passed, the son showed up dutifully for family main events. He did what he was asked whenever he was asked, but always with that rebellious attitude.
Another son was very successful and loved to visit his father and talk about himself and his latest conquest, whether it was a business venture or a woman. A third son, also successful in his choice of careers, acquiesced to any request for his presence, but rarely made the effort on his own initiative.
Then there are the daughters, two of which were vivacious and attractive, constantly doing things for their father. They divided their time between their own homes and their father’s home, doing whatever they could find to do to make him happy. Their father loved them, but sometimes his feelings ran close to irritation as the daughters continued to find things to do for him that he did not ask them to do. He felt sometimes they were wasting their energies when they could be doing the things he had taught them to do instead of the things they decided were a better investment of their time.
Last, but certainly not least, is the third daughter. She was neither as lovely nor as vivacious as the others. A middle child, she was not what one would call a success, but she wasn’t a failure either. A middle-of-the-road type of person, she enjoyed her own home and career (though she called it a job). At family gatherings, she was never the center of attention. Neither athlete nor business mogul, she had never attained the high scholastic marks the others strove for, though she always did her best. So as the others laughed and traded witticisms and stories of their own latest successes, she listened and smiled, encouraging them with ‘ooo’ and ‘ah’ at the appropriate moments. And after the others had departed, she would stay behind, making sure everything was back in order and her father was comfortable. She would prepare two glasses of iced tea and, bringing him one, she would sit and talk with him a while before heading for her own home. She often stopped in unannounced to see how he was doing and share moments of her life with him, seeking his wisdom and enjoying his fellowship.
As happens to all men, death finally overtook the man, and his family was left to divide the estate. The day came to listen to the reading of the will, and they all (but one) sat in shock as they heard the lawyer read the man’s words: “My dear children. You surely must know how much I love each and every one of you. I have placed before you many treasures throughout your lives and it has been up to you to gather them and experience the depth of those riches. I have left you the reward of hard work, and you have turned it into a race for possessions and prestige. I have left you the reward of obedience, and you have turned it into disobedience by deciding you knew better than I what needed to be done. I have left you the reward of fellowship, and you have turned it into a game of one-upmanship, never delving any deeper than shallow, impersonal relationships. My children, you have squandered the greatest rewards I can give you. I do not believe that leaving you wealth and riches will enrich your lives. Return, dear children, to the first lessons.”
Five of the children were outraged, incensed that their father should have denied them their inheritance. But one of the children spoke softly, and the rest turned to listen. She said, “He gave us our inheritance while he was with us. You were too busy, too selfish, too self-serving, to notice. The greatest gift he had to give us was himself.”
Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. Revelation 22:12
Please, ask yourself today, why are you serving the Lord? Is it because you think there is going to be some big reward? Or banquet? Are you doing what He has asked you to do or are you so busy ‘working’ for the Lord that you can’t hear His requests? Are you spending time with Him, getting to know Him, exploring His character, and applying that beauty to your own life? No one is promised tomorrow and we will all face death. Please. Examine your heart. If you are serving the Lord, why are you doing it? And if you are not, why not?