When you first read the title of today’s message, what came to mind? The word dash can mean many different things, from a splash (dash) of water, to a small amount of an ingredient for a recipe, to a footrace, such as the 100-yard dash.
I’d like to offer you an exhortation contained in the word dash that springs from a totally different meaning. Picture a tombstone; the inscription usually includes two dates, separated by a hyphen—a dash—between them. The date on the left is the date of birth; the date on the right is the date of death. The dash in between these two dates represents everything that occurred between birth and death.
Now that you understand the meaning of “the dash” that I intend to use throughout this brief message—that is, the space that you are currently inhabiting that lies between birth and physical death—let me ask you this question:
When all is said and done in your life, what would you like said about all you have done?
Whatever you would like said about you will not happen by accident! The Bible makes it crystal clear that we should deeply consider just how we are spending our dash. The number on the left side of our dash is already chiseled into the stone . . . but none of us knows when the number on the right side will come. It has been established—Scripture says that all the days ordained for us are written in God’s book before we are born (Psalm 139:16)—but we have no idea when that day will come.
Jesus calls us to consider the life we are currently living to see if we are living a life that truly matters. In the Bible we find only two different classifications of tombstones: one is inscribed WISE; the other bears the inscription FOOL. What is the distinction between these two classifications? In a word . . . GOD!
Then [Jesus] said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
As you read this passage, notice that Jesus is NOT teaching against acquiring possessions, planning for the future, and making provisions for retirement; the message in Jesus’ parable is rooted in His words, “all kinds of greed.” Prudent planning for the future, such as retirement planning, is wise and offers a good Christian witness, but to neglect planning for what comes after the dash (after death) is foolish and fatal.
The fool lives for self; the man God designates as a fool in Jesus’ parable thinks only of “my crops . . . my barns . . . my grain . . . my goods.” He does not even acknowledge that it was the Lord who granted him the ability to produce wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). His only thought was the anticipation of ease and merriment and sensual pleasures.
The wise person lives for the Savior. Living for the Savior means that we live in the light of eternity. Jesus said that “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Our focus in life should not be on how much we acquire, but rather how much we live for God—how much “the dash” of our lives is spent with an eye toward the Savior—being generous toward God, rather than pleasing self.
So . . . when was the last time you gave any thought to how you want your epitaph to read? What will your dash represent for the brief time you are here on this earth? Right now, whether you have thought through it or not, you are leaving a lasting legacy for your loved ones. And even though you don’t know when the day on the right side of dash will come, it will come, as certainly as if it had already been etched into the stone . . . it could be this very night!
Have you placed your trust in the One who loved you so much that He came to die on your behalf? If you have already made that eternity-altering decision to believe in the Lord Jesus so that you may be saved, you need not fear hearing those dread words from heaven: “You fool!” But have you taken time to consider your dash . . . and thought about any course-corrections that may be necessary? Because there is a word that every Christian should long to hear at the end of his or her time on this sphere: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!