Rev. George C. (Chip) Hammond
He changed the world. The Macintosh. The iPhone. The iPod. The iPad.
Steve Jobs' achievements were mind-boggling. He was only sixteen when he gained an interest in electronics. At twenty-two he was a co-founder of a company called Apple. In 1984 he introduced the first commercially successful small computer with a graphical user interface. In 1986 Jobs acquired a graphics animation studio that he would transform into Pixar. The technology was used to produce such animated block busters as Toy Story and Cars. His association with Apple and other interests garnered him a personal net worth estimated in 2010 to be $8.3 billion.
In 1984 Jobs was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Ronald Reagan. In 1987 he received the Jefferson Award for Public Service in the category "Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under." In August 2009, Jobs was named the most admired entrepreneur among teenagers in a survey by Junior Achievement. On November 5, 2009, Jobs was named the CEO of the decade by Fortune Magazine.
In 2004 Jobs announced to Apple (and thus to the world) that he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. He was able to utilize the best treatment money could buy, which bought him seven more years.
I am struck by the fact that in hearing and reading the news, and hearing a recounting of all the accomplishments and contributes of Steve Jobs that I know really nothing at all of his spiritual state and condition. I'm sure many people would say, "What does that matter? Look at all the good the man did."
Certainly the world is a different place because of Steve Jobs, and in many ways a better one. But is this a good measure of success? God has a different measure.
If you carefully read through the books of Kings in the Old Testament, you will notice a pattern that I find striking. In reporting the deaths of the kings of Israel, the Scriptures will often say, "As for the achievements of King so-and-so" - and then go on to briefly state in a sentence their achievements, which were often impressive: palaces they built, cities they established, the land they conquered or recovered, the wars they fought or won - these are all said to be recorded in the "annuls of the king of Israel."
This document (the annuls of the kings of Israel) is lost to us, but corresponding documents from the Ancient Near East give us a clue as to what it was. This book was a record of all the achievements and accomplishments in detail of each king, and the contributions he made to the nation and the society. The brief understatements of Scriptures represent prodigious accomplishments. And yet, the Scriptures hardly mention them. Their focus is spent rather on unpacking the words, "King so-and-so did evil in the eyes of the LORD" (a formula applied to the kings of the northern realm of Israel which, sadly, has no exceptions).
It makes me pause and ponder. Steve Jobs had tremendous wealth and power. He made a tremendous contribution to the world. Those accomplishments have been and are being recorded in the annuls of the captains of industry, such as Time and Forbes.
Do those prodigious accomplishments mean anything to God? In the end, will Steve Jobs' life really have counted for anything?
I truly hope so.
A person may have his or her name recorded in many places that will bring earthly accolade and adulation. But there are only two places one's name may be recorded which will have any real significance.
"And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds" (Rev. 21:27).
There are those who will tell you that Christians will not be judged by their works. They have been influenced by the spirit of Antichrist, for while the Scriptures are clear that Christians will not be saved by their works, it is equally clear that they will be judged by them (cf. Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10).
What we do now counts for eternity. But it is not only what we do that matters, but our motive in doing it. Whatever is not done from a heart purified by faith in Christ, according to a right standard (the Word of God) and to a right end (the glory of God) will bring no benefit, whatever the earthly estimations of the person may be.
But those who live to glorify God and serve Christ do so because they have been written in the Lamb's Book of Life from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8).
Of course none of us has access to that book. We can't peak into it to see if Jobs' name is written there or not. Earthly accomplishments, however influential, may garner one write-ups in Time but they provide no clue as to what is written about them in those all-important books.
We can't read who is written there. But we may gain a sense of it by their lives. Did Steve Jobs feel the weight of his sin, repent of it and turn to Christ for salvation? Did he live in service to that Savior with the goal of glorifying God? If he did, it was never recorded in the annuls of the captains of industry, for the world does not care about such things.
"I saw the great and the small standing before the throne."
Perhaps you're not among the great like Steve Jobs. Perhaps you're a poster child for the small. But both of you alike will stand before that throne. And on that Day, what will matter is not what is written in Time, but what is written in those books. And on that Day, many valleys will be exalted, and many mountains and hills will be made low.