Mark or Blur

Live life in such a way to leave a mark, not a blur.

Lorne Sanny

Webster’s dictionary defines a blur as follows.  “To obscure, soil, or blemish by smearing; to smudge, to make dim or indistinct to the sight.  A smear or stain which obscures without effacing.”  It is something which cannot be depended upon to give information or guidance.  It blends in with the background.  It is something which is passed over without thought as we look to something of substance to give direction to our thoughts or lives.  A mark, on the other hand, is defined as a “thing aimed at; a target; a goal.  It is also defined as a limit or standard of action or fact, and as a conspicuous object of known position serving as an object for travelers.”

In the New Testament, we have two examples of fellow workers in the Kingdom of Christ, one of whom left a mark, and the other a blur.  They were laboring together for a number of years, but they departed ways based on the choices that each one made.  The choice of one of these was chronicled in Galatians 6:14.  “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  The life of the Apostle Paul left a mark.  His life has been for many a “thing aimed at, a target, and a goal.”  His life was conspicuous, serving as an object for other travelers of the Christian faith.  The other choice is noted in II Timothy 4:10.  “For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”  The life of Demas blended in the background of his day; it was “dim and indistinct to the sight.”  It could not be depended upon to give information or guidance.  He chose to live for self rather than to live for the Lord.  His choice echoed the same sentiment found in Peter’s rebuke of the Lord.  A.B. Bruce makes these comments regarding Simon’s advice to the Lord in “The Training of the Twelve.”   “That advice was substantially this:  ‘Save thyself at any rate; sacrifice duty to self-interest, the cause of God to personal convenience.‘  For the whole aim of Satanic policy is to get self-interest recognized as the chief end of man.”  Self interest always leaves a blur, not a mark.

We are far removed from the days of Paul and Demas, but Paul has left several words for us by which we may judge whether our lives are lived by the principle of Galatians 6:14.  These words are affections, ambition, and attitude.  The first of these is mentioned in Colossians 3:1-2.  “If ye then be raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”  Affections refer to a “bent of mind, natural impulse swaying the mind, or disposition.” (Webster’s)  Does our disposition lead us to daily seek those things which are above?  Do things above determine our bent of mind and sway the mind?  To the extent that we experience the affections described in these verses, our lives become a mark, not a blur.

Paul describes his ambition in Romans 15:20.  “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.”  Is our ambition in this life only to succeed in business, or does it also include a passion for the furtherance of the Kingdom of Christ?  Do we have an ambition to see others come to the knowledge of Christ?  Do we have an ambition to see others discipled and become a part of his Church?  To the measure in which these are a part of our lives, our lives are a mark, not a blur.

Finally, Paul also describes the attitude which is needed in our lives that characterizes his choice in Galatians 6:14.  It is found in Philippians 2:5-8.  “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!”   To the degree to which this is our attitude is the degree to which our lives are a mark instead of a blur.

A speaker at one of our Navigator conferences once stated that we live our lives in either Philippians 1:21 or in Philippians 2:21.   To live our lives in Philippians 2:21, “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ,” is to make a blur.  To live our lives in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,” is to make a mark.  As your lives are lived out in Philippians 1:21, my prayer for you is found in II Thessalonians 2:16-17.  “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

In Christ, Richard Spann

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