Don’t Just Make a Living, Make a Life!

Luke 12:15

I was in a Trustee Meeting at the University of Mobile listening to a report by Dr. Robert McGinley concerning a soon to be launched Capital Gains Campaign for the University. In his report he made this statement: “We are doing a good job of teaching students how to make a living; it is time we start teaching them how to make a life.”That statement has lived with me since that moment. I have condensed it somewhat and built a message for all of us to ponder. My version is “Don’t Just Make A Living, Make A Life!”

It is amazing to me to realize how many individuals are living miserable, unfulfilled, and totally frustrated lives because they are so caught up in the trap of making a living and have no real substance to life. I think you all would agree with me that modern day family life is somewhat like a horse race. Think about it:

We all line up in the starting gate, the alarm clock rings and they’re off:

“Too Tired Mom” takes a quick lead on the inside as she grabs a towel and jumps into the shower.
“Stressed-out Dad” is running a close second as he prepares for his busy day.
“Temper Tantrum Tommy” and “Spoiled Suzy” are a close third and forth.

Then two lengths back in a pack chasing the leaders are:

Clothes to Wash
Kids to School
Ball to Practice
Grass to Cut
The Day is Gone
Deals to Make
Groceries to Buy
Piano Rehearsal
Supper to Cook
Not Enough Time

As they turn the half-mile pole, Too Tired Mom is beginning to fall back to Kids to School, and Deals to Make is moving past Stressed-out Dad. At the three-quarter mile pole Too Tired Mom, Stressed-out Dad, Temper Tantrum Tommy, and Spoiled Suzy have all been passed by Clothes to Wash, Groceries to Buy, Piano Rehearsal, Grass to Cut, and Ball to Practice.

And down the stretch they come. It’s Not Enough Time and The Day is Gone driving down the outside. They are neck and neck and are pulling away. It is a photo finish with The Day is Gone first, Not Enough Time a close second, and Supper to Cook a distant third. Then comes Grass to Cut, Clothes to Wash, Ball to Practice, Groceries to Buy, Piano Rehearsal, Kids to School, and Deals to Make; and finishing way back are Temper Tantrum Tommy, Spoiled Suzy, Stressed-out Dad, and dead last, Too Tired Mom!

Does that sound familiar? It sounds like the typical modern day family. It makes us realize the need for reviewing where we are. Are we putting too much emphasis on Making a Living at the expense of not Making a Life?

Allow me to share three thoughts concerning this subject:

I. The world today stresses value rather than the valuable.

We have developed this idea that the more we have, the richer we are. In Hollywood there is an exclusive school attended by children of movie stars, producers, and directors. Asked to write a composition on the subject of poverty, one little girl started her literary piece: “Once there was a poor little girl. Her father was poor, her mother was poor, her governess was poor, her chauffeur was poor, and her butler was poor. In fact, everybody in the house was poor.” Sometimes you can have all the things and still be poor.By today’s standards, it seems you have to have, in order to be a success. There is a real danger to put too much value on things and not enough value on the valuable. There is the temptation to think we are self-sufficient. Remember the words of Deuteronomy 8:18: “It is the Lord thy God that giveth thee power to get wealth.”

Irrespective of what you may gain for yourself, remember, “all you have comes from the hand of God.” The gift of God demands responsibility. Daniel Webster once said, “The most solemn thought of his life was the realization of his accountability to God.”

Our text for our message today (Luke 12:15) says, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Think also of the parable of the “Rich Fool”: Poor indeed is he who may be rich in this world’s goods if he is not rich toward God.

You may have houses and lands, fine automobiles, a place on the lake, and the whole nine yards; but all these things will never satisfy your soul. Your only true satisfaction can come through a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Look again at the text (Luke 12:15 ).  There is a double warning here: The Lord says, “Take heed” and “beware” of covetousness.  Covetousness is greed, dissatisfaction with what is enough, desiring what belongs to others, a love of having, and the modern day cries of give me, give me, give me.  It is finding happiness in things instead of in God.

The world is becoming so driven by this desire, that you desire the power of things, more than the things themselves. What does that mean? Have you ever bought something just because it was a certain brand name, when the same item with a lesser name and a lesser price would have worked just as well, but you bought it so everyone else could see the name?

The world puts the emphasis on value, not on the valuable. So, you ask, “What is the valuable?” A good question deserves a good answer, and here it is. Experiences-‑a walk in the park, a trip with the family, a quiet evening at home, a quiet time with the Lord, or how about your child being saved. Something you just can’t put a price tag on.

The valuable things of life are those things that you determine to help you make a life rather than just make a living.

II. The world stresses the easy way instead of the hard way.

Somehow, we have seemingly built into the fiber of our land this philosophy: “The world owes me a living!” We are like the old farmer who said, “Lightning struck the old shed and thus saved me the trouble of tearing it down; and the rain washed off my old truck and saved me that chore too.” When asked what he was doing now, he replied, “Waiting on an earthquake to shake the ‘taters out of the ground.”This modern day attitude grieves me and is a grave concern for me. Honorable terms like, “I’m willing to work hard,” have been replaced by terms like, “I want a lazy man’s job” or “You don’t really expect me to do that do you?” The term, “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage,” is almost insulting today.

A boss said to a tardy employee, “You’re twenty minutes late again. Don’t you know what time people go to work around here?” The employee replied, “No sir. They’ve already started by the time I get here.”

This attitude of getting it the easy way instead of the hard way is the stimulus for the feeding frenzy that has our prison cells filled to capacity with young men and women who have fallen prey to it trying to get things the easy way instead of working for it. We all know how Satan has manipulated the minds of many young people today. He has lured them into drug usage and drug dealing. He has convinced them that stealing other people’s property is a better way to go than to find and hold a job. He has convinced the world that there is an easy way for everyone.

Let’s talk about gambling for a minute. The Devil and his crowd pour millions of dollars annually into trying to legalize and maintain their gambling ventures. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why? I want to tell you why: It is because they are getting filthy rich off of the gullible. I know a lot of folks who have played their games, but I don’t know anyone who has won.

When it comes to gambling, all that glitters is not gold! If you are not careful, you will find that you have sold your soul; and you can be sure that the Devil is going to cash in. The gambling promoters substitute Lady Luck for hard work, ingenuity, education, and commitment the values that keep America great and strong.

Our television sets are covered up with bright, colorful, glitzy advertisements promoting the casinos and lottery. As you surf the channels, you can now find sometimes three and four poker games for your viewing pleasure. Very much like the beginning of profanity on TV years ago, even though we were all appalled, it now seems to be accepted by almost everyone. The Devil is conditioning our younger generation to think there is nothing wrong with gambling.

Speaking of TV, there are all kinds of reality shows on TV today. Let’s think together what might happen if we were seeing the true reality of gambling and its contributions to society. Instead of all the glitzy pictures they now show us, imagine the reality of a tear-drenched young mother with three hungry and needy children by her side. They are hungry and needy because Daddy has taken the paycheck for months, gone down to the casino, and gambled it away, pledging the whole time that things are going to be better when he wins the “big one.” The truth is that the “big one” never comes. Even though he is hopeful, Daddy has not only forsaken his children but he has now committed adultery by becoming an addict to this Devil’s lie‑the trap of trying to get it the easy way instead of the hard way.

Now if you think neglected children, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, divorce, financial stress, lost productivity, increased crime, and diminished spiritual health are the way to go; then you need to support legalized gambling. These are her fruits.

1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Let me just give a word of advice here:  If you want a new car, work for it! If you want a new home, work for it! If you want an education, work for it! However, be careful that your labor helps you to make a life and not just a living.  There is honor in honest, hard work.

III. The world stresses now rather than wait.

Here is another snare of the Devil. We think we have to have things now! Young couples want in the beginning of their marriage that which their parents took a lifetime to acquire. So what do they do? They fall prey once again to another of Satan’s lies: credit society’s instant fix. They get overextended and are caught right back in the trap of “Making a Living, rather than Making a Life!”Americans are the funniest people on earth. They buy things they do not need with money they do not have to impress people they do not like. They call it “Keeping up with the Jones.” Folks, it is honorable to let the Jones family move on if you have a life! Paul said, “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col. 3:2) Give first place in your interest and desires to the things of God and the things of eternity.

A barber was cutting a man’s hair.  He said to the man, “You see that little boy walking down the street he is the dumbest kid in the world!”  To which the man asked, “Why is that?”  The barber said, “Just watch and I will show you.”  In a moment the little boy opened the door to the barber shop and stepped inside.  The barber turned to the cash register and back around with a dollar bill in one hand and fifty cents in the other and said here son take your pick.”  The little boy grabbed the fifty cents and out the door he went.  The barber said, “See there, he has been coming in here two and three times a week for several months, and he always chooses the fifty cents.  He is the dumbest kid in the world!”  A little later, the man was walking down the street and ran into the little boy coming out of the ice cream shop with a large ice cream cone.  He asked the little boy, “Why do you always choose the fifty cents over the dollar bill?”  The little boy replied, “Cause Mister, if I ever choose that dollar, the game is over!”  The moral to the story is “sometimes, less is more!”

Listen, you can gain all this world can give, but if you have no treasure laid up in heaven you are poor indeed. You can travel and see all the wonders of the world; but if you overlook the free salvation of Christ, you have missed all. It is not enough to just make a living you must make a life! Someone said, “You make a living out of what you get; you make a life out of what you give.”

Sid Nichols

Director of Missions at Calhoun Baptist Association
DOM for the Calhoun Association since August 2001.
Sid Nichols

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