The billionaire and the retiree might seem to be strange bedfellows, but if both are not careful, they can fall prey to the same fatal disease: carpediemitis. Sure, the amount of financial resources for the billionaire have a few more zeroes after the comma than the average retiree, but caprediemitis can effect both people if they are not careful.
What is carpediemitis, you ask? Let me break it down for you: “Carpe Diem” is the Latin phrase translated “Seize the Day.” Someone who suffers from carpediemitis is someone who has lost functioning application of that Latin motto. Without the financial need to work, some trust fund children or pension drawing retirees drift into a shell. Without the need to work every day, life can cease to lose purpose. Without external requirements to fulfill, their daily compass loses true north, and they can wander aimlessly from this week to next month. Certainly there is nothing wrong with being financially independent, but when those who have achieved it stop seizing the day, they begin to die. Statistics from a study of employees at Boeing Aerospace showed that people who retired at age 65 were dead (on average) within two years of their retirement. While I think this number is way too generalized for application within the general population, I do think it points to a particularly interesting fact. When we quit living, we start dying. People who suffer from carpediemitis are no longer forced to live and instead of choosing to continue to engage life, they have begun to die.
I say all this today, because in Matthew 25:14-30 I see Jesus warn about the dangers of spiritual carpediemitis. In these verses, Jesus tells a parable about a master who gives financial resources to three slaves before going away on a journey. The master gives a large amount of money to each servant. To one servant, he gives the American equivalent of $2.5 million. To another servant, he gives the equivalent of $1 million. To the last servant, he gives the equivalent of $500,000. By any estimation, THIS IS A LOT OF MONEY! The recipients of these large gifts were slaves. To each of them, this money would have been the equivalent of more than a lifetime of earned income.
The master gave each slave these resources to see what they would do with it. Two of the servants invested the resources and turned a significant profit, however, one servant did nothing. Truly nothing. They did not lose the money, but they did not make any more money either . . . they just held onto it. When the master returns, he applauds the two who invested their money and calls them “faithful.” To the servant, however, who did nothing with his money, the master shows great displeasure and takes away what was given.
Think of it this way. Through one generous gift, each of these men became financially independent. While two of them took this independence and kept on living, one of them came down with a case of carpediemitis. One of them went into a shell and tried to protect what they had. One of them began to die. To the servant who did nothing with his large deposit the master said, “You wicked, lazy servant!” “Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. (25:26, 28).” Strong words of displeasure indeed!
I think the point that Jesus wants us to get from this parable is to remember that we have been given a large spiritual deposit from Him. When we became a Christian, we were given an incredible deposit of forgiveness, acceptance, love, gifting, relationships, etc. This huge deposit is worth more in spiritual equity than a $2.5 million check. Blessed with this intense set of blessings, and realizing that we no longer have to work for God’s approval, some Christians take their blessing and come down with an intense case of carpediemitis. They live out their Christian lives in a shell, taking no chances and trusting God very little. Sure, they may keep a moral code, but their life tends to be marked by more of what they will not do, than by what they do. Someone with a case of carpediemitis may not have an extra-marital affair, but they also may not have extreme love for their neighbor. Someone with carpediemitis may not share a joint at the party, but they also may not share Christ with their friend. Someone with spiritual carpediemitis tends to take the blessings they have been given by Christ, and bury them in their backyard behind their gated fence.
To those who struggle with spiritual carpediemitis, the words of Christ are clear: either get busy living, or you will be busy dying. The Christian life is not designed to sit in neutral, it is designed to trust Christ and move forward in a walk of faith. We have been given a fortune in spiritual blessings. We did not earn those blessings, nor can we ever pay them back. However, we have been blessed not just so that we can have fat spiritual bank accounts. We have been blessed so that we can invest that blessing in Christ’s work and be a blessing to others.
Think of your life for a moment. What are the talents God has given you? What are the opportunities, gifts, passions, relationships, etc. that God has placed before you in life? How are you trusting Him with those talents and investing in God’s work around you? Think about as you seize the day.