Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. [Romans 12:2 (NLT)]
The man who does not know where he is is lost; the man who does not know why he was born is worse lost; the man who cannot find an object worthy of his true devotion is lost utterly. [A.W. Tozer]
Every month, a firm with which we do business asks a question of its associates and clients and shares some of the answers. In January, they published responses to, “What are you proud that you accomplished in 2016?” One man was proud that, after reading up on motors, he’d managed to repair the family boat by changing the starter motor and another was proud that he’d expanded his horizons by hiking and rock climbing in various national parks. A lawyer was proud that a case he pled had been cited in several law review articles and his associate was proud of reinvigorating a committee in the law firm. The response that touched me, however, was from a man who had just been inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame and named as one of the ten most influential people in his industry. While pleased by those honors, they were not his points of pride. He was most proud of the fact that he’d made a positive impact on other people’s lives through his work. People came to him with issues to clarify, problems to solve, or obstacles to surmount and he had helped them. He shared that bettering the lives of others is the force that drives him to do what he does. After reading his response, I wondered how I would answer that same question.
I thought of that question again when reading A.W. Tozer’s words about a man whose obituary read that he had “devoted his life to trying to breed the perfect spotted mouse.” Tozer wrote, “Made in the image of God, equipped with awesome powers of mind and soul, called to dream immortal dreams and to think the long thoughts of eternity, he chooses the breeding of a spotted mouse as his reason for existing.…Surely this is a tragedy.” Apparently, breeding rodents is not as far-fetched as it sounds. There’s a National Mouse Club in England, the Rat & Mouse Club of America, a Rat & Mouse Gazette, and today is World Rat Day. Although mice are often bred for the study of genetics, I hope that even the most zealous geneticists are not devoting their entire lives to that project.
We’re probably not breeding spotted mice, but are we devoting our lives to its equivalent? People dedicate their lives to making money, becoming famous, getting frequent flyer miles, climbing mountains, having fun, setting or breaking records, shopping, going to casinos or playing the ponies, having a pristine house, decorating and redecorating, or building collections of art or cars. While nothing is inherently wrong with those activities, none are worthy of our devotion!
Rather than having our obituaries tell of our commitment to breeding spotted mice or something similar, wouldn’t we rather have them speak of our devotion to God and of our love for His children? Rather than being remembered for the perfect spotted mouse, I’d rather be remembered for making a positive impact on the lives of others.
One of the glories of the Christian gospel is its ability not only to deliver a man from sin but to orient him. … The spirit-illuminated Christian cannot be cheated. He knows the values of things; he will not bid on a rainbow nor make a down payment on a mirage; he will not, in short, devote his life to spotted mice. [A.W. Tozer]