How Do We Spend Our Heartbeats?
And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. Philippians 2:16-17 (NIV)
In residency, I worked with a cardiologist who claimed he didn’t exercise because he didn’t want to waste his heartbeats. His theory was that we were only granted a certain number of heartbeats in life and that exercise shortened our lives by using them up faster. I was never convinced that he believed this, but he didn’t work out, and he really did tell patients about his no-exercise philosophy.
Looking back, I do think he was on to something. Maybe his exercise-heartbeat theory was flawed, but we are given only one life and we are granted only so much time on this Earth. When it’s over, it’s over and there’s no getting it back. So, the question isn’t necessarily about exercise, but rather about how we use our one life. What will I do with that which has been given to me? Will I use my time, effort, and money to feed my appetite, pursuing that which cannot last? Or, will I use what God has given me to pursue that which is of eternal value?
In today’s passage, Paul exhorted the Philippians to hold fast to their faith so that his labor had not been in vain. He said that he would gladly look back on his life, realizing it had been poured out and sacrificed for their faith. Like Christ, Paul lived his life in service to others. Continually, he sought to spend his time and energy to grow the faith of those with whom he came in contact. Paul didn’t build a nice life for himself. He knew that wouldn’t last. Rather, he used up his life to pursue that which could never be taken away from him – even in death. Paul lived not for the temporal, but the eternal.
So, the question stands – How are we spending our heartbeats? Do we go to work, collect a paycheck, and live for the weekend? There’s nothing wrong with a relaxing Saturday after hard week’s work, but what are we laboring for? We don’t have to quit our jobs and move to some third world country to work for the eternal. Living for the eternal may simply mean striving for meaningful interactions with those whom God has put in our path. Things don’t last, but people and relationships do. When we help someone find faith and recovery, we invest in that which does not die.