There are things in this world that are alluring. Things that we dream about.
Give me financial independence, a ’67 Cobra and an outdoor kitchen and I’m good to go.
Some want a lot more. They want: a lot of Wealth…a lot of Power…a lot of Fame…or all of the above.
And they’ll spend a lot of energy and resources to get them.
The Presidential Race…
Take the current Presidential Race.
Campaigns are spending hundreds of millions to achieve something as temporary as my outdoor kitchen. Even more temporary when you look at term limits.
But they will achieve something I can’t get with barbeque or driving 160 mph. They get to control government and brand their legacy.
They tend to make plenty of promises to get there, but history tells us few will be kept.
What About Us…
We, the electorate, are as much to blame. Most use the “what’s in it for me” mindset when casting our vote. Could care less about community and country, it’s all about… “Where’s mine?”
And the cycle goes on…
This is not new. It’s as old as mankind. From the fall in the garden, to the conquerors of ancient times, greed is prevalent. From revolution to revolution, right to our current presidential campaign, it’s a struggle for the biggest prizes of this world.
Power, Wealth and Fame.
A tough choice…
What happens when someone says no to the world and yes to a life committed to Jesus Christ?
What kind of legacy could we have if we set our ambitions aside and looked to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and future?
Unfortunately, too many choose the prizes of this world.
The Rich Young Ruler…
In Matthew 19, a Rich Young Ruler approached Jesus.
He asked what good thing must he do to obtain eternal life. In other words, what is it that he can do to have the ultimate.
He had his youth and his whole life ahead of him.
And Oh yeah… he was rich!
In a time that most had to scratch out survival on a daily basis, this young man had more than enough.
He was a ruler also.
Perhaps he ruled an estate with many servants. Perhaps a small community depended on his leadership for survival.
Regardless he had influence and respect. He had the ear of the powerful, and likewise had power himself. He was a man of reputation.
His response to a question from Jesus reveals that this young man was obedient to the commandments.
He was honorable.
An honorable young man who had influence and wealth! This guy was son-in-law material!
So why did he come to Jesus? Why did he ask the question of eternal life?
He Wanted More…
To his credit he was not satisfied with his wealth, power and fame. He wanted more. He wanted it all.
Or was he confident the answer was a forgone conclusion. Was he so confident in his good works that the question was just a formality… that he had already achieved eternal life?
Sometimes the truth hurts…
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
Give it all up and follow Jesus. Leave your position, your wealth and your influence and follow Jesus.
Upon hearing the answer, this Rich Young Ruler went away very sad because he had a lot.
One could say he kept his earthly treasure in lieu of a heavenly one.
Now let’s look at a different story.
William Whiting Borden…
William Whiting Borden was born into wealth and privilege.
His father was a prominent business man in Chicago. The elder Borden accumulated massive wealth from silver mining in Colorado.
In 1894, William’s mother gave her life to Christ. He was six. Her influence led William to do the same and he was baptized at Chicago Avenue Church (The Moody Church).
After graduating from High School, William’s parents gave him an incredible present: a trip around the world. It was during this trip that he was called by God. He was called to be a missionary.
He was called to walk away from Wealth, Power and Prestege and become a Servant to the Cause of Christ.
When friends and family expressed disbelief about his life choice, claiming he was “throwing himself away as a missionary,” he wrote in his bible, “No Reserves”.
In 1904, William enrolled at Yale. He showed that he was a remarkable student, but more importantly he showed he was a remarkable Christian.
Every morning he started his day with prayer and Bible study. These devotionals started with a friend. By the end of his freshman year, there were 150 students involved. By the end of his senior year, 1,000 of the 1,300 students at Yale were participating.
Yale Hope Mission…
His outreach was not just to students. It also went to the lower parts of the city. Here William helped and prayed with the homeless and disenfranchised.
He founded, funded and served at the Yale Hope Mission. This ministry catered to orphans, widows and the disabled, along with vagrants and drunkards.
He was constantly seen helping in acts of kindness and evangelism, such as feeding a skid row resident while trying to lead him to Christ.
After Graduation, William was offered many high paying jobs. With an eye still on Missions, he refused them all. He confirmed that decision by inscribing in his bible, “No Retreats”.
Instead he enrolled at Princeton’s Theological Seminary where he focused on Missionary training. It was here that he decided to serve Muslims in Northern China.
Soon after graduating from Princeton, William embarked on his missionary journey to China. He stopped off in Egypt to learn Arabic, the Muslim’s language.
But he couldn’t wait to evangelize. While in Egypt he started a missionary work of distributing Christian Literature to win the local residents to Christ.
While in Egypt he contracted spinal meningitis, which took his life at the age of 25. After learning that his illness was terminal, he again went to his bible and wrote, “No Regrets”.
A short life? Perhaps. But one that was full.
When news of his death was cabled back to the United States, every major newspaper covered the story. The story of a man that not only sacrificed a privileged life of wealth, power and prestige, but in the end, also sacrificed himself.
A wave of missionary fever swept the country. Young men and women were flocking to the mission fields, inspired by the life of William Whiting Borden.
Now that’s building a legacy.
What is your legacy?
Will it be like the rich young ruler, hanging on to the things of this world? Will it be like the political candidates, trying to attain power and fame?
Or will it be like William Borden’s:
- Meeting your call with no Reserves?
- Striving in your purpose with no Retreats?
- And in the end, looking back at your life with no Regrets.
A man in Christ
He arose and forsook all and followed Him, Kindly affectioned with brotherly love, Fervent in spirit serving the Lord, Rejoicing in hope, Patient in tribulation, Instant in prayer, Communicating to the necessity of saints, In honour preferring others, Apart from faith in Christ, There is no explanation for such a life.
-Epitaph of William Whiting Borden (1887-1913)