In 1993, Steven Spielberg directed an award winning movie about the Jewish Holocaust entitled Schindler’s List. The movie tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of over twelve hundred Polish Jews. Living in the shadow of Auschwitz, Schindler used his considerable wealth from the operation of his business to save as many Jews as he was able. In those years, millions of Jews died in Nazi death camps and the few he saved pale in comparison to the nearly six million who died.
Schindler himself was far from a perfect man. He usually had a mistress or two, drank heavily, and had the soul of a gambler. He made his money in the black market and the underworld associated with Gestapo bigwigs. Sometime during the Holocaust, his heart was touched by the brutality he witnessed, so he started using his factory to employee Jewish workers. He resolved to do everything in his power to defeat the German Holocaust. When all was done, he had saved over twelve hundred Jews from almost certain death.
In appreciation for his work, the Jews added Oskar Schindler to the Garden of the Righteous in the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem. He is buried near the bus parking lot near Zion Gate in Jerusalem. Usually many stones are placed on top of the grave, as a token of gratitude according to Jewish tradition, although he himself wasn’t Jewish.
One of the most memorable parts of the movie occurs when the war has ended and Schindler was gathered with the people whom he saved. He buried his face in his hands and cried, “I should have done more!” Though most acclaim him as one of the heroes of the Holocaust, he felt a tremendous burden of guilt for the money that he wasted which could have been used to save a few more people. Whether or not the scene depicted what actually occurred I do not know, but it expresses a powerful thought.
What Will We Feel?
We Americans have lived through the most prosperous years any nation has enjoyed, at least so far as I know. Even our poor live on a level that is the envy of many nations. Our poor have houses to live in, watch color TV (many have cable TV services), have food to eat, have access to the best medical services in the world, have an automobile to drive, and many can still afford to buy cigarettes! Middle class Americans own their own home, have at least two automobiles (when the kids are in high school and college, many families have more autos than that), have sufficient funds not to worry about where the next week’s meals are coming from, can afford to go out to eat a couple or three times a week, and otherwise enjoy what would be considered luxuries in many parts of the world. Many own wide screen TVs, have cable service for both the TV and internet, have a cell phone (as well as a land phone, both of which have call waiting), suffer from obesity because of overeating, and still complain about their lot in life!
What will we feel when we come before God in judgment to answer for how we have used the abundance of blessings he has given to us? The Scriptures teach that, as stewards, we must give account of how we have used those things with which we have been blessed. After giving the parable of the unjust steward, Jesus said, “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:9-12).
The story is followed almost immediately by the story of the rich man and Lazarus. “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:19-21). This rich man used his goods to satisfy himself (he was clothed in purple and fine lined, and fared sumptuously every day), but he did nothing to meet the needs of his poor neighbor who was sick (full of sores) and hungry (desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table), and unable to prevent the dogs from licking his sores. The rich man was aware of this but apparently did nothing to relieve his suffering. Will we answer for similar opportunities to help which we ignored?
I suspect that when we come to the end of life and later stand before God in judgment, we too will feel like Schindler is depicted as thinking, “I should have done more.”
I should have given more to the poor and to support the gospel. How much more good would be done if each Christian family decided to eat at home one more meal a week and use that money to help the poor among us or to increase our contributions at church? Would there be good works that are presently being left undone that we could do if we sacrificed a little more? Paul said, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Are we letting opportunities slip past us?
There are works in the Philippines and India in need of funds, where the economy is so poverty stricken that a minimal contribution can do enormous good. If you need helping locating someone in these countries to assist, I can direct you to men who have devoted considerable time to these works and can advise you about how to help and who to help.
There are elders who oversee the church treasury who may likely feel the same way. Their treasury has tens of thousands of dollars sitting idly, without any designated use, while they turn down requests for support from qualified preachers wanting to work with a small congregation. Will these elders lament that they did not do more when they stand before God in judgment?
I should have spent less time watching TV and more time doing good works. Some of us spend precious little time studying the Bible, visiting the sick, supporting those who have lost a loved one to death, trying to set up a home Bible study with someone, and other good works. What difference will it make if we miss an episode of The Biggest Loser, Lost, or American Idol? Do you think we will regret the lost years of service on that day? Will we be the biggest loser? Will we look back and think, “I could have done more!” Such people bear little resemblance to an American idol!
I could have done more to influence my family. There are parents who have been negligent in the rearing of their children. Their children are now grown and do not show an ounce of interest in spiritual things. Back when they wanted to go to Bible class, mom and dad were too busy with activities they thought were more important than taking them to Bible class. Precious opportunities to shape their little minds were lost and the Devil filled the vacuum with alluring and attractive fun things to do. Soon the world was much more appealing than the boring things at church. When mom and dad decided to make a deeper commitment to worship, they could not interest their teenaged children in going. Such parents will lament, “I could have done more.” Parents who attend all of the services but seem to have children relatively uninterested in worship might ask themselves, while they still have the power to influence their children’s lives, “Can I do more?”
How will we feel when we stand before the Judge of all the earth?
~Mike Willis— Truth Magazine , Vol. III, Number 9, Sept 2008, page 2