"Rome wasn't built in a day."
How often did we hear that when we were growing up? Unfortunately that stuff about Rome is true. And Paul's words to century-one believers who lived there are not only true—they're inspired: "But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently" (Rom. 8:25). Temporal things will disappear when Jesus returns. So the bottom line of everything is eternity spent with God. If we believe that, it will show in how we use our resources. Three such resources come to mind.
Time. Ernest Hemingway said, "Time is the least thing we have of." In my lifetime I'll spend about six months waiting at stoplights, eight months opening junk mail, and five years standing in line. The world in which we live dictates certain parameters. Still, there's enough time left over to spend plenty on what lasts. In a day of self-indulgent leaders, sports celebrities with rap sheets, and parents who live at the office, we need mentors—not gods, but guides. We need portfolios designed for spiritual investments, not simply for Wall Street. As our Scottish friends tell us, "Some things are better felt than telt." We show our priorities by our time. Have you looked at your calendar lately?
Money. We know we've spent wisely when the worth of something eclipses the cost. That's why we can usually figure out a person's scale of values by how he or she spends money. Jesus makes this item very personal when He says, "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:20–21). What's your spiritual EKG?
Spiritual gift. Maybe you can't sink a ball in a hoop, but can you teach? Or you may trip over your tongue, but can you heal brokenness with words that show mercy? You can't write songs, but can you pen notes of encouragement? What's my point? Your particular gift or capability is just as deliberately planned by God as any other. Use it for His glory; exercise it for His honor!
Despite the time, money, and talent invested in building Rome, today that massive empire has crumbled. Knowing why isn't rocket science—only one kingdom will truly last. In God's economics of grace we can send some of our earthly treasure ahead by investing in eternity now. Step up. Spend wisely. Start today!
About the Contributors
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and His grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. His leadership as president and now Chancellor Emeritus of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry. Chuck and his wife Cynthia, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.