Despite his suffering and confusion, Paul stayed faithful and trusting. And in the face of death he knows that there is a reward, “the crown of righteousness,” awaiting him. This reward is not for any of the mission or ministry Paul did. It is not because he earned it. The righteousness Paul will receive was earned by Jesus. It is not for us to earn; it is only for us to be given. And by the grace of Jesus all who look forward to his appearing will receive the gift of righteousness.
For people in the first third of their life: It is very easy to feel invincible and ignore death. We must find focus and get set on the right trajectory now. As Psalm 90:12 says, “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” We must find a way to realize we won’t live forever and learn to funnel our time and energy into things that are good and outside of ourselves. Part of this means choosing a career that can benefit others, and not just supply our own comfort. Another problem we often face in this time of life is being self-focused. Many of us are addicted to our phones and social media. Specifically, we are addicted to our image and ourselves, and our phones feed that obsession. Put down your phone and engage the world and mission in front of you.
For people in the middle third:
1. Take your children to funerals. It is part of your responsibility as a parent to expose your children to death and grief. Help them learn about their own mortality.
2. Take time to do mission. We are often so busy that we overlook opportunities to serve and love the people God has placed in our lives. Don’t let daily life distract you from your eternal mission.
3. Don’t relinquish the opportunity to take care of the younger and older generations.
For people in the final third: Remain engaged and reinvest in people. You have more wisdom, experience and resources than most people. Use that to pour into others.