A friend and I once did an 8-day walk in the north of England. Much of our second day’s walk was done in view of Dunstanburgh Castle, a giant 14th-century fort now in ruins. The castle was built by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, with a purpose: to declare Thomas’ wealth and glory. In many ways he succeeded. Seven centuries later, the castle keeps Thomas’ name alive. But in the most important sense he failed. A sign in front of the castle remembers Thomas as an “arrogant and unpopular” man.
When we talk about our calling in life, it’s easy to go straight to the grand things we’d like to achieve—the books we’ll write, the businesses we’ll start, the churches we’ll plant, the “castles” we’ll build. You may well establish something that lives on after you, but it won’t be the most important part of your legacy.
Our fundamental calling is to love—to love God and others (Matthew 22:37-39). The apostle Paul filled in the details of what a life of love looks like: being patient and kind, avoiding boasting and pride (1 Corinthians 13:4); not demanding our own way or keeping records of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5); pursuing justice and hope and persevering in all things (1 Corinthians 13:6-7). And if doing miracles and sacrificing our lives means nothing without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), how much more so our careers and achievements!
Imagine that after you die a sign were placed outside your home telling visitors about you. Beyond the “castles” you built and things you achieved, how does it describe you? As someone who achieved much but loved little? Or as someone who achieved much by loving much?
In the end, the castles we build for ourselves will crumble. All that will remain of our lives is love—love found in Jesus.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Mark 12:28-37
Read Galatians 5:13 and consider what Paul is revealing about the ways we can use our resources and freedom in Jesus either to bless others or not.
How can Jesus’ call for you to love be fulfilled in your daily work? What would happen if you reviewed the success of each day by how much you loved rather than by how much you accomplished?