Gordon McDonald says that we live our lives in two separate worlds. We have our outer public world, and this is the part of our lives that everyone sees. It is clearly visible and easily measurable, and it is the easiest part of your life that tells you whether you are successful or not. Our public life makes great demands on our time, and it is always pulling at us.
Then we also have our inner private world. Jesus refers to it as our inner most being. This is where we think and reflect. It is where our ideas are formed and our choices are made. Each personal private world is most significantly impacted by our relationship with God.
McDonald believes it is very easy for us to neglect our private world because it is not as demanding. In fact each of us can ignore our private world for long periods of time, and it is only after long periods of neglect that we experience a sinkhole-like cave-in.
I spend most of my time working with businessmen. I always find it interesting how men size up other men when they meet for the first time. Without realizing it, we will find ourselves comparing our lives with theirs. And when we size up other men, we use a certain criteria:
How does he look and dress?Where was he educated?What does he do for a living?Does he have an impressive title?What about his wife?Where does he live?What kind of car does he drive?What about this kids? Are they sufficiently accomplished?If this is the criteria, how well do you measure up?
The problem with this criteria is that each entry is all about an external characteristic. Our lives always seem to be measured by our outer, public world. The problem is, you can have a barn full of money, a boatload full of accomplishments, and movie-star good looks, yet your private, inner world can be a train wreck.
A good example of this was Tiger Woods five years ago. As a very wise man told me, Tiger had everything, and he traded it for nothing. He had a hole in his soul that he was trying to fill with unbridled sexual experiences. So many people were baffled by this because all we had really ever seen and noticed was his outer, public life on the golf course. He always seemed to be so together. What we did not realize is that his soul was quite destitute.
The Apostle Paul had some insightful words about our public and private worlds: Therefore we do not lose heart, thought outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (II Corinthians 4:16)
Paul is telling us that if we are going to live our lives for the externals, we need to know they are wasting away. You see it in your physical body. You see it in your career. It is all passing away. Paul also is implying that if we are living for the externals, we will lose heart as time goes by. We will leave the world in great despair, and death will be the great enemy due to its ability to remove all of our externals all of the showy things that we have invested our lives in.
But notice what Paul says to the Christians at Corinth: We do not lose heart. The reason that we do not is because even though the externals are passing away, our inner life, as we feed on Christ, is being renewed and strengthened every day.
This is why Augustine said, If there is a God who brought us into existence, then the deepest chambers of our souls simply cannot be filled up by anything less than Him.
Where are you accumulating value? An external ledger that depreciates daily, or an increasingly enriched, internal relationship with God and his son, Jesus Christ?