Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating quite a difficult task. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. We must do something about grandfather, said the son. I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor. So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in grandfather’s direction, sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp rebukes when he dropped a fork or spilled food. They were upset about the whole thing.
The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, What are you making? Just as sweetly, the boy responded, Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and mum to eat your food in when I grow up. The four-year-old smiled and went back to work. The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
So that evening the husband took grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days, he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled. Things were different.
What Is The Most Important Thing In Life For You?
Sometimes we need a wake-up call to see what matters most. What is the most important thing in life for you? Money? Happiness? Love? Those things are certainly important, but what about good values. What are values? They are what we consider more important than our feelings. For instance, just about everyone feels like eating junk food, but if you eat whatever you feel like eating you will end up obese and unhealthy. So then, what stops people from eating all the food they feel like eating? The answer is good values.
Recently I heard an anonymous poem called “Live a Life That Matters”. Some of the poem’s lines say,
Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
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It’s fine to care a lot about a lot of things—family, friends, partnerships, work, community, creative pursuits, causes. It’s a tough question: what matters most? The old man living with his family is now happier because they found out through their four-year-old son that some things that irritate us don’t really matter. It’s good to have a tidy kitchen—but spilled peas on the floor?
Three Things Will Last Forever
Some people say that what matters is that I live with integrity, compassion, and generosity to enrich, empower, and encourage others. Yes—great answers! But here’s what I think: Love is really what matters. And the Apostle Paul tells us in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – NLT):
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
(To be continued in What Matters Most – Part 2)