You've probably heard the one about the up-and-coming entrepreneur who was opening the door of his sleek new Jaguar when a truck roared by, hit it, and ripped it off its hinges. The police arrived at the scene quickly and found the man jumping up and down in the street. He was shrieking to anyone who would listen about the horrible damage done to his precious automobile.
"You wheeler-dealers are all so materialistic!" began the investigating officer, shaking his head in bewilderment. "You make me sick."
"What's your problem?" the driver snapped.
"You're so worried about your precious Jag," said the cop, "that you appear not to have noticed that your left arm was ripped off!"
"Oh, no!" bellowed the guy as he looked down at the grisly stump where his arm had been a few minutes before. "Where's my Rolex?"
When one of us gets where my young friend was when he was told that he likely had less than six months to live, he or she will focus intensely on the things that really matter in life. There will be far less concern about the newest electronic gadget, a bigger house, liposuction, a luxury car, or some other inconsequential indulgence. In fact, I doubt that a one of those items will come to mind at all.
When your time on Planet Earth is about to end and you are reflecting on how your one-time trip through life has worked out, you'll think about and reach for the people who are most important to you. And you will think about what happens after you have taken your last breath. These are the really important things — as opposed to burning yourself out at the office, neglecting your family and friends, and pushing spiritual concerns to the fringe of your life.
Being responsible and working hard are good things. And there is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of honest labor. Yet the Bible cautions us to remember that we came into the world without a company, portfolio, or fortune — and will leave it the same way. So the smart thing is to major in what will matter at the end and not to fritter away your life with what cannot go into eternity.
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money." Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin. (James 4:13-17 NRS)