It is said that among the Native American Cherokee Indians, who lived primarily in the southeast region of the United States until they were relocated to Oklahoma and other parts of the SW, they had many sayings and proverbs that became known to European settlers. One of them goes this way: “When you were born, you cried and everyone around you rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, everyone around you cries and you rejoice.” I’m sure the translation from Cherokee to English would provide a variety of renderings, but the main thought is still very clear.
Someone who read this saying said that what it meant to them was that a person should live their life for others, not just for themselves. We could call this a form of investing in others so that we have the joy of reaping the benefits. Like the story I heard of a Wall Street broker out on a lunch break who saw a veteran selling small items on the street, and out of compassion gave him some money to invest in a kiosk so that it looked more legitimate. After some time the vet disappeared and the broker could only guess what happened until one day he went into a local business establishment and found out that the vet was now the owner, and doing quite well.
Another person who read this saying responded this way: “I was born with a closed hand and I will die with an open hand.” In other words, when we are born we have nothing to give to the one who made it possible for us to have life and live. But as we go through life we have opportunities to acquire things that help us live and enjoy life, but when we die we can’t take them with us. We can be greedy and have them buried with us, or we can give them to others who will use them to help others.
This thought can have no greater meaning than when we apply it to what we received from God as talent, ability, character, and enlightenment upon our new birth through Jesus Christ. I’m sure there were many who rejoiced when we were born-again. But when it comes time to lay our burdens down and go to our heavenly rest to await the resurrection, how many will weep, not only because we will be missed, but also for the joy of having something we invested in their lives that made them a better person? – Dr. Robert R Seyda