Steve Jobs, the biography by Walter Isaacson, went on sale yesterday. In an interview, Isaacson commented on the effect Jobs’ cancer had on his life focus.
He talked a lot to me about what happened when he got sick and how it focused him. He said he no longer wanted to go out, no longer wanted to travel the world. He would focus on the products. He knew the couple of things he wanted to do, which was the iPhone and then the iPad.
Wisdom in the House of Mourning
I just preached at a funeral. Funerals are high privileges for me. “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). So much wisdom is to be had there. “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). This is what the house of mourning is for: Lessons in mortality and the learning of wisdom.
Sometimes God makes us go to the house of mourning. He decrees cancer. We are forced to live in the shadow of our funeral—the school of wisdom.
The wisdom Steve Jobs learned, he said, was this: Do a couple things, and do them well. You don’t have time for much. And most of things are not lasting. So do two or three things, and do them amazingly.
Not a bad lesson. In fact, really good—as far as it goes.
What Matters Is United in One Thing
But when Paul described what he learned in the long shadow of his own funeral, it was based not merely on the inevitability of death, but on the death of death. “Death is swallowed up in victory”—through Jesus Christ.
Here’s the lesson: “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
There is one thing, not two or three, that matters. All is united in one thing: “The work of the Lord.” It might be computers. It might be conversions. Whatever it is, in the shadow of your funeral, let it be “the work of the Lord.”
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). “Whatever you do, do everything in the name of the Lord” (Colossians 3:17). By faith in Jesus, every act becomes this one thing—the work of the Lord.
Let Us Learn
Get the wisdom of the house of mourning. Learn from the shadow of your own funeral. One thing matters. Whether you make an iPhone, or use an iPhone, let every breath, every thought, every deed be one thing—the “work of faith”—the work of the Lord.
– John Piper