Several years ago I read an article about a light bulb that was too faithful. It said:
“Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879 and 22 years later, in 1901, one of these new gadgets was hung at the Livermore (Ca.) Fire Dept., and turned on. It was still burning 71 years later...By today's stan- dards, it should have burned out 852 times. It is a hand blown bulb with a thick carbon filament made by the Shelby Electric Co., which never be- came one of the giants for obvious reasons. They made light bulbs to last and nobody ever re-ordered!”
Such longevity is hard to believe in our day of planned obsolescence. Manufacturers intend for their products to wear out and though some are “guaranteed for life,” that may not be very long!
God intended for us to make a commitment for life—regardless of how long that lasts. The Lord said to the church in Smyrna, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). He was saying be faithful even if they kill you. In the parable of the vine and the branches, Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me…If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (Jn. 15:4,6). He was talking about “every branch (individual) in Me that does not bear fruit” (v. 2). Those branches will be removed from Christ and burned.
In 1968, the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) predicted that the world would end in the Fall of 1975. Some of their members believed that so strongly that they would not take their children to a doctor because Jesus was going to come and they would be healed. They just had to hold out until then. About twenty-five hears later, we heard all the alarm over Y2K (year 2,000), in which all computers were going to fail and the world may even come to an end.
If there were any Scriptural signs whereby we could determine when Jesus is going to return, we would have a deadline and could get prepared just before that time. But God gave no signs by which we can determine when the second coming will take place. We must live prepared and then we can die prepared.
It is disappointing to see, or hear of brethren who have started the race and then turned away because of bitterness, indifference, hurt feelings or worldliness. Sometimes I feel like Jeremiah, who said, “Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” (Jer. 9:1). In spite of everything he did, many of the Israelites continued to rebel against God, to their own destruction. The same kind of tragedies continue today. Those who break down, or wear out too soon will not receive the crown of life. Jesus said “be faithful until death.”
Not only do we have the responsibility to be faithful, but we must also try to rescue the perishing. James said, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:19,20). The death from which a person is rescued is spiritual death—eternal separation from God (Rev. 21:8).
We should not burn out, wear out, or rust out, but “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).