Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us that “the end of a thing is better than its beginning”. To live & end our lives well, we need to ask some questions:
• What is my life sentence? What legacy am I leaving behind?
• Am I living my life on purpose or by accident? Or do I react to life as it comes?
When we look at today’s passage, we see that the hour of the cross has come upon Jesus, when His blood is shed & He departs from this world to the Father. We examine the 3 principles of Self Revelation:
1. Jesus’ unconditional love
(i) Eternal and infinite love (John 17:23-24)
The Father loves the Son. And 1 John 3:1 reminds us that God has a special love for us, His children. It is an infinite & eternal love that began from the foundation of the world.
(ii) Love that is more than a passion or feeling
In the Old Testament, the word “mercy” in Lamentations 3:22-23 is ‘hesed’ meaning lovingkindness. It refers to God’s covenantal love that is loyal to the very end and is unconditional, unchanging and unshakeable. In the New Testament, the word “agape” is used (John 3:16). It is self-giving love. This love is also expressed in the word “compassion”. The bible tells us that Jesus was moved to compassion when He saw the multitudes crying out. His love is passionate, personal, purposeful, persevering and pursuing.
(iii) Love with foresight
God’s love is not blind. He sees our past, present and future, the ups and downs, victories and defeats. He knows our fallen nature and the circumstances in our lives, yet loves us (Song of Solomon 2:4; Romans 5:8)
There is an idea around Christianity of what is called transactional love. If we do good, God will bless; and if we do bad, there will be punishment. But God’s love is transformational, it is the love that changes us from within so that we not only love Him but others too.
2. Jesus’ self-awareness
(i) That God the Father is in control
In John 13:3 the word “knowing” refers to an intimate knowledge Jesus has that His Father is in complete control, thus He delights to do the will of the Father (Psalm 40:8). For the joy that was set before Him, He despised the shame & endured the cross. Acts 4:24 reminds us that God’s counsel and God’s hand has already predetermined the cross. And Psalm 76:10 adds that even the “deeds of the wicked will praise the Lord”. Like Jesus, we also need to realise that God is in control in all things and learn to yield to His will.
(ii) Jesus is aware of who He is, and whose He is
Jesus knew the Father had given Him all things. He came from God, His divine origin and was going to God, His divine destination. Therefore, He served from a position of authority & could face His present with mercy and joy. Likewise, we too can go forth with all authority from Jesus.
However, we need to be aware of:
• Performance traps – the need to perform & show one is in control so that we are not seen as failures.
• Approval addiction – the need to please people because of the fear of rejection.
• Blame and Shame game – the need to operate as either persecutors or victims of circumstances, martyrs, pleasers or rescuers.
(iii) Our self-awareness
When we view from the position of who God is, we will be able to know who we are before God. Therefore, because of Christ’s redemption:
• We are a new creation in Jesus Christ & of infinite worth and deeply loved – sense of self-worth (value) & security.
• We are fully pleasing and totally accepted in Him – sense of satisfaction & stability.
• We are absolutely forgiven & complete in Him, approved by God & filled with His fullness – sense of significance & sufficiency
3. Jesus’ slave-hood
(i) He served with integrity and authenticity
Jesus knew who He was & to whom He belonged, & that is why He was able to serve.
(ii) Jesus’ life sentence
Jesus came to serve & to give His life as a ransom (Mark 10:45). He went about doing good (Acts 10:38), and as His workmanship, we too have been created for good works (Ephesians 2:10).
4. Our response
(i) Our life sentence -What then should be our response? Our life sentence must revolve around 2 major points:
• His commands (Mission and Motive)
– Great commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) – loving God with our all & loving others
– Great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) – to make disciples of all nations
• According to our SHAPE (Psalm 139:14)
We are wonderfully & fearfully made. He blessed us with S – spiritual gifts; H – heart & passions; A – abilities; P – personalities & E – experiences. Through them, God makes us, melts, moulds & remakes us.
(ii) Our goals
• To practise the Presence of God (Acts 4:13)
It is intimacy with God, as to be with Him is to be like Him. Let us consider the:
– Discipline of Simplicity – to reorder our complicated & cluttered world (Matthew 6:33)
– Discipline of silence – to be still & know that He is God (Psalm 46:10)
– Discipline of solitude – to rest & reflect (Mark 6:30-32)
– Discipline of submission – to trust & obey (Proverbs 3:5-6)
• To finish strongly and strong – 5 things that will allow us to finish strong:
– Lifetime perspective of life and work – all things together for good to them who love God
– Special seasons of renewal – purpose in every season of life (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
– Disciplines to keep close to Him
– Life-long learning – when we quit learning we quit growing.
– Mentoring accountability – being accountable to God & one another (2 Timothy 2:22)
Rev Goh went on to share his own personal life sentence – Philippians 1:21 & his epitaph: Goh Seng Fong. “In His Presence” (Psalm 16:11). For one day, we will surely be in His presence. And his wife Daisy’s life sentence is Galatians 2:10 & epitaph reads – “To be continued above…” This life is but the first chapter of eternity.
What is your next chapter? It will have to be written sooner or later. If you have rejected Christ, it will be a place in hellfire. I pray that God will enable your next chapter to be in heaven. Alfred Nobel who instituted the Nobel Peace Prize wrote that “everyone deserves a chance to change their obituary in the middle of their life”. These are some thoughts we can meditate on:
– I may not be just what I might have been, but I need no longer remain what I am!
– Though I cannot go back and make a brand new start, I can start from now, and make a brand new end.
Therefore. I encourage you to “Soar higher. Reach further. Grow stronger!”
• What is my life sentence? My epitaph?
• What would I leave behind? My legacy?
• What would people say at my Homegoing?
Let us invest in eternity! Let us invest in God! Let us invest in people!