The wise invest in eternity

Wesley Methodist Church’s 138th Anniversary

The wise invest in eternity
Rev Stanley Chua preaching at Wesley Methodist Church at their 138th Anniversary Service

If people in this world are willing to make every effort in securing their earthly future, what then should be said of children of God’s Kingdom who need to secure their eternal future?

Speaking at the 138th Anniversary of Wesley Methodist Church on 19 February 2023, Rev Stanley Chua posed this question and drew on lessons from the Parable of the Shrewd Manager in Luke 16:1-13 to send home the message that Jesus Christ wants us to be wise by investing in eternity.

The message was timely as we move into the post-pandemic world, with the government lowering the DORSCON level from yellow to green barely a week earlier. This has allowed us to resume many pre-Covid activities, but it also means many things compete for our time and attention.

Rev Chua, who is the President of the Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), suggested two ways we could invest in our eternity: Invest more in people than in things, and invest more in our souls than in our material security.

Invest more in people than in things
“The (shrewd) manager in the parable used people for his own ends; he was not being generous when he decided to bless the people who had owed his master money. Rather, he did what he did to benefit himself,” said Rev Chua.

“In contrast, Jesus is saying to us that we are not to be like the manager, but we are to use our possessions and resources to bring eternal benefits to others.”

The key verse is Luke 16:9 (NIV), “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

“To the rich man, the most important thing was to look after his needs in this world, even if that involved dishonesty,” said Rev Chua.

On the contrary, “Jesus was teaching his disciples to take a different approach. He said to them, while you have them, (i.e. worldly goods), use them in such a way that when they have ended their use in this world, they will continue working to your advantage in eternity.”

Invest more in our souls than in our material security
Rev Chua also urged the congregation to invest more in our souls than material gains. No matter how much we care for our physical body and how much we make elaborate plans for our earthy life, the reality is that one day, our body will wear out and death is inevitable.

The Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 103:15-16: “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”

“In the light of the brevity of our life on earth, Jesus is saying to us that we need to be wise and pay attention to the things in eternity,” said Rev Chua. “We need to be concerned and invest in the welfare of our souls as we do the welfare of our temporal lives.”

On how we could invest in our souls, Rev Chua gave the congregation three questions to ponder:

What is your relationship with Jesus?
“Some of us may have been Christians for 10 or 20 years and we think that by just coming to church on every Sunday, it is enough,” said Rev Chua. “We don’t take time to read the Bible; we don’t set aside time to do devotion and pray. We are relying on our past experiences with Jesus some 10 or 20 years ago.”

Referring to Dallas Willard’s book The Great Omission, he asked, “Would you really be comfortable for eternity in the presence of One whose company you have not found especially desirable for the few hours and days of your earthly existence?”

Are you becoming more like Christ?
Rev Chua said Christ did not just save us only to have eternal life. He saved us so that we might also become more like him and be a positive influence over others and draw others to Christ. But he lamented that the frequent refrain that he hears from non-Christians is that they are often stumbled by many Christians they have encountered in their lives.

Rev Chua raised the example of Mahatma Gandhi, the famous Indian civil rights leader. “He was asked by a close friend, ‘If you admire Christ so much, why don’t you become a Christian?’ Gandhi famously replied, ‘I would have become a Christian if I had seen one.’”

Are you using your gifts to serve God?
“Scripture does not say that our previous lives will be of no eternal significance. In fact, it says exactly the opposite,” said Rev Chua as he pointed to Jesus’ teachings on such matters, including the Parable of the Talents, the Parable of the Ten Minas, and the Parable of the Tenants.

From these parables, “…we would know that there is some kind of a reward system when we get to heaven,” he said. “God has created us to do good works. He has a lifetime of good works for each of us to do according to the gifts, talents and resources that he has given us. And he will reward us according to what we do with them.”

In conclusion, Rev Chua said Jesus clearly stated in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager that there are some things that last, and some things that do not; some things that are of true value, but others are of temporal value only.

“Do not play games with your eternal future. Be wise to invest in things that count! Be wise and invest in people and invest in your souls.”

~ Rev Stanley Chua

Rev Stanley Chua

Alvin Tay is the Managing Editor of Methodist Message and the LCEC chairperson at Wesley Methodist Church. / Photos courtesy of Matthias Ho