Empty hands and an empty heart

Published 9:16 am Friday, February 2, 2018

As Alexander the Great was nearing his death he gave detailed burial instructions. It seems, according to my research, that he desired to be buried with his hands empty, uncovered, and protruding through the casket cover. Alexander felt that in this way he would let the world know that he was leaving everything behind. The man who had conquered the world knew and wanted others to realize that he was leaving the world empty-handed. As we consider the end of our own lives we too should realize that when we leave this world we will leave it empty-handed also. This is perhaps a well needed lesson considering the times in which we live; a time when many individuals have their minds centered on the material possessions they have and can gain rather than on things of a spiritual nature.
Perhaps you as I have heard “You can’t take it with you!” This is indeed a true statement when it comes to physical possessions. Paul in his letter to Timothy said, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6:7 KJV). In Job, we read, “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21 KJV). Then Jesus in the story of the rich farmer reminds us that we cannot take our wealth with us when he said to the rich farmer, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? (21) So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21 KJV). To help illustrate this concept I am reminded of the story of the wealthy individual who died and was buried in his gold Cadillac. In the story it was said that someone at the funeral was overheard saying, “Man, that’s living!” To many, this story may seem to be implausible; however, when we recall the history of the ancient pharaohs and how that they as well as many wealthy Egyptians were buried with much of their vast treasures, it rings true that some believe they can take their wealth with them. Even today many live as if they think they can take their wealth with them. However, we know that they nor we cannot take treasures beyond the physical realm. This simply cannot be done.
What about the child of God? While we know that Christians do not take their physical treasures with them when they die, they can and do send their treasures on ahead while they are yet living. Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
If Alexander the Great had placed his hope in God, his empty hands may not have seemed so empty for he could have relied on the treasures he had laid up in heaven. This should cause each of us to consider our own lives. Where are our treasures being lain?
(Tony Hoss is minister at Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton.)

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