I was fortunate enough to teach a Sunday school class of twenty-two 7th graders not too long ago. It was during one of these classes that I posed this question to all of the young teenagers:
“What do you think is the single-most important thing you can do in your lifetime?”
This thought provoking question was raised after a spirited discussion on the meaning of life in our last Sunday school class just seven days prior. I suggested to the students that they think about all the important things their parents, grandparents, or prominent people they admire achieved throughout their lifetime.
“What would you most like to accomplish in your lifetime?” I asked. “What are the things that are most important to you? How would you like to be remembered? What single thing can you do that will have lasting consequences?”
I gave the class a few minutes to ponder the question as I passed out 3 X 5 index cards for them to write their responses on. After collecting the index cards, I sat myself at the table in front of the room and perused through their candid answers. I was anxious to see what was important within the mind of thirteen year-old teenagers.
A few of the girls wanted to be “good Mother’s.” Several students wanted to be the “CEO of a major corporation.” One young man wanted to be a “Major League Baseball Star” while another wanted to be “rich like Bill Gates.” Many responded that their single most important thing they could do in life was “just being a good person.” A few students tried to second-guess me (the teacher) by answering what they wanted most from life was to “help the needy and less fortunate of the world.” One student wanted to be “a good role model” while another wanted to have her “picture on the cover of a Teen Magazine.” Since this was a Sunday school class, the most popular response to the most important thing they could do in life was “to love God.”
Clearly, the majority of these young teens’ minds were consumed with desiring materialistic things. In sync with each other, they felt that the most important thing they could do in their lifetime was to “achieve” some sort of high social status, wealth, or fame. There was no doubt that the Internet, Social Media, and their Peers held a great deal of influence on their life’s goals and aspirations.
After neatly shuffling the index cards into my hands, I rose from my chair and calmly told the students that all twenty-two of them had the wrong answer.
The students sat in disbelief.
“What is the right answer?” they demanded.
“There is no right answer!” shouted one student.
“Before I tell you,” I smiled, “let me ask you a simple question. What is the average life span of humans these days? In other words, how many years do we typically live on this earth?”
“One-hundred!” bellowed one boy.
“Eighty?” questioned another.
I told them that according to national statistics, the average life span of a man is about seventy-five (75) years, while the average life span of a woman is approximately seventy-nine (79) years. Women live, on average, four years longer than men.
The girls in the class smiled in approval over their superior longevity.
I then approached the blackboard and put a dot on the board with a piece of white chalk. I had seen this demonstrated by Bruce Wilkinson at a CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) annual meeting a few years back. “This dot,” I said, “is your average life span on earth, 75 years for men and 79 years for women. Even the Bible tells us how long our life span is.”
“Seventy years is all we have—eighty years if we are strong; yet all they bring us is trouble and sorrow; life is soon over, and we are gone.” (Psalms 90: 10)
Then I asked them another question. “If this dot represents our time on earth, how long is life after death?”
The room fell silent for a few seconds.
“I don’t care to think about that,” one girl commented.
“Yeah, “said another, “that’s for old people to worry about.”
“Not so fast,” I chimed. “Just go on social media or watch the news on television. Young people die every day: many of them tragically; all of them unexpectedly. You never know when it will be your turn. The odds are in your favor that you will live a long and healthy life, but no one is assured of that.” I went back to the blackboard.
“This dot represents your time on earth.” I then drew a line from the dot, across the entire blackboard, to the other side of the room. I affixed an arrow to the end of the white chalk line indicating that the line will go on forever. “This line represents your time after death. It goes on infinitum. It never ends!” I told them that this world system thinks only in the short term and lives only for today, instead of thinking and living toward the future. We live in the dot with no regard for the line.
With that being said, I then read them what the Bible says about where we will be residing throughout eternity. “We can only go two places after we die,” I said, “heaven or hell.” Some other religions may think that there could be a possibility of being reincarnated, but there is no Biblical evidence of that. The Bible clearly states:
“And all were judged according to what they had done….Whoever did not have his name written in the book of the living was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:13-15)
“Who wants to go to heaven?” I asked. Everyone in the class raised their hands.
“Who wants to go to hell?” No one in the class raised their hand.
“If that’s the case,” I smiled, “let’s refer back to my original question. What do you think is the single most important thing you can do in your lifetime?”
The class buzzed with anticipation. I slowly emphasized the simple, yet profound answer:
“The single most important thing you can do in your lifetime is to insure where you will be spending the next.”
Silence permeated the room. I could hear a pin drop.
I paraphrased, “the single most important thing you can do in your lifetime is to make sure that you do what it takes to spend eternity in the God-filled loving atmosphere of heaven and not the demon-filled eternal torment of hell.”
“Are you saying that having a great job and making lots of money is not the most important thing we can do?” one boy asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “When you die, how much money will you need? How many of your possessions will you be able to take with you? Have you ever seen a U-Haul at a funeral?
“Does that mean that having a family and raising your children to be responsible adults is not the most important thing we can do?” chimed in another girl.
“You got it,” I responded. “Raising children to be responsible adults is important, as is having a loving family. But come judgment day you, alone, will be asked to give an account of what you have done. You cannot stand before God, and be judged, as a group.”
Think about it. Living your life with the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die is the wise thing to do. Knowing where you will be spending eternity will make today’s living experience much more pleasant. I told the class, “God’s Word says that in order for you to do the most important thing in this life (assuring yourselves of where you will be spending the next life); there is one thing that you must get first.”
“Does anyone know what that is?” I asked?
“A good job?” one of the students asked.
“Permission from our parents.” another joked.
“No, it’s something that only comes from God. Can anyone guess?”
“Jesus?” a few students chimed.
“Sort of, I responded. You see, in the fourth chapter of Proverbs, we are told:”
“Getting Wisdom is the most important thing you can do (in this life). Whatever else you get, get insight.” (Proverbs 4: 7)
Spending eternity with God in heaven is what God wants all of you to do. You were all given a free will to either choose or reject Him. The fool rejects Him; the wise person accepts Him. The Bible says that the most important thing you can do is to get wisdom. Wisdom is not something that you can learn from a text book nor is it something that you inherit from your parents. Wisdom comes from God. Only He can give it to you:
“It is the Lord who gives wisdom; from Him comes knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2: 6)
God alone gives you the wisdom to know Him and His purpose for each of your lives. God wants each of you to realize that life is short. Read the news on any given day and you will see people tragically killed “before their time.” You never know when it will be your time to meet your maker. God, alone, determines your time here on earth.
“Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1)
You only have 70-80 years, on average, to be wise and come to understand God’s secret plan for your life before it’s too late; before your time expires. But with God’s wisdom, you can be sure of your eternal destiny. When you get God’s wisdom, you can do the most important thing, which is insure where you will be spending eternity.
It is the wise choice.
My Sunday school class sat in amazement. They were dumbfounded by these Biblical truths, unknown to them previously.
“Yes, how can I remember to do the most important thing in this life?” questioned a curious young woman. “How can I be sure to get wisdom?”
“That’s a great question!” I exclaimed. “I should write a book on that subject.”