Jump Start # 2958
Ecclesiastes 7:2 “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living take it to heart.”
I was in a funeral home the other day and of course this passage came to my mind. It is good to be here, was the thought. There are times when we are forced to think things that we may not normally do. And, there is much good and value that can come from that.
For instance, life has a way of making you think of things you may not normally think about. Taking your wife to the hospital to have a baby is one of those moments. You are now going to be a parent. A little person is going to turn to you first with questions. That little person is going to do what you do. Life has a way of making think about things that you may not.
In that funeral home the other day, I was sitting next to a friend. We got talking about retirement and where we are going to be buried. Wow, those are big topics. Heavy, is what they would call that back in the ‘60s. When you are in your 30’s, you are not thinking about retirement and definitely not where you want to be buried. Those thoughts aren’t on the radar screen. Not at all. But when you hit your 60’s and beyond, now those thoughts come to your mind. Life forces you to think about those things.
Preaching also has a way of getting us to think about things that we may not normally do. That’s the beauty of preaching and the challenge before us. Putting forth questions about our walk with the Lord, our eternal destiny, and our purpose here, makes us think. This is why preaching tends to step on our toes and knock the polish off of our shoes. It causes us to think about spiritual things. It causes us to lower the nets and think beyond the superficial and artificial things in life.
Our passage says, ‘the living take it to heart.’ The living are thinking. They are thinking about a life now over. The living are thinking about their own life. The living realizes that death is real and there is no escaping it. Take it to heart—thinking things that you may not normally think about.
Here are some considerations:
First, some people never take anything to heart. They can sit through a funeral and not even for a second will they consider that they might be next. I’ve been to funerals where the grandfather is in the casket, died from lung cancer, and the family is outside on the front porch smoking. I guess they don’t get it. Some can sit through a sermon and their minds are miles away. As Jesus was teaching, a man asked Him to settle a family problem about money. He wasn’t paying attention. Martha interrupted Jesus because her sister wasn’t helping her. Some can have a real scare in their family, such as, a serious car accident, a cancer, a child that was missing, and yet, after the crisis passes, nothing. No changes. No thankfulness to the Lord. No better behavior. No seeking Jesus. Nothing. They never took it to heart.
Second, some take it to heart for a little while. After the funeral, all the people, all the flowers, all the cards, all the food, it touches some. It makes them appreciative. Some will even show up a Sunday or two for worship. The thoughts of wanting to be with mom in Heaven causes some to realize that they need to step it up spiritually. And, they do, for a short time. But, it doesn’t last. Within a month, they are back into their old routine and things as they were before the funeral. Nothing much changed.
This is also true of sermons. Some can be convicted and feel the need to do better. And, they do, but it just doesn’t last very long. Maybe they come every night of a meeting. But the meeting ends, and back to their old ways of just showing up now and then continues. They took it to heart, but it didn’t last.
Third, some make real changes after ‘taking it to heart.’ You see it. They seem less selfish. They become more patient. They stick around after services and are connecting more. They bring prayer to the kitchen table. They have more deeper conversations with others. The funeral hit them. The sermon stuck. The events changed them and it changed them for the better. What happened is that they took it to heart and it stayed in their heart.
Life and sermons—they have a way of making us think. Sometimes we may not like the topic, such as our death, but ignoring that won’t make it go away. What it will do is leave us unprepared and leave a mess for our family.
The living take it to heart…sure wish more would do that. Sure wish I’d do that more. ‘Gotta work on that, how about you?