“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’”

— John 1:43

FOLLOW ME – JESUS OF NAZARETH

When Henry Heinz, the founder of the H. J. Heinz Company, wrote his will, he included as his first lines, “I desire to set forth, at the very beginning of this will, as the most important item in it, a confession of my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior.” Henry Heinz founded the company called “Heinz 57” with his brother after previously filing for bankruptcy. They started out making ketchup and eventually expanded to over sixty other products. A successful company largely in Pittsburgh, it grew to become one of the biggest food producing companies in the world. Beyond his being a devout Christian, the unusual first words of Henry’s will represented a lifetime of living his faith.

“The words in Henry Heinz’s will reflect the life he led and were a statement of his focus in following Jesus.”

The H. J. Heinz Company had a reputation for fair treatment of their employees, at a time when fair labor standards existed only in the future. By 1906, he was providing his employees with free medical care. In his facilities, he had gyms, swimming pools, and gardens. He provided educational opportunities, libraries, concerts, and lectures. He was a pioneer in safe and sanitary food preparation. At a time in our country’s history when many corporations ignored these social items, Heinz was a leader. The words in Henry Heinz’s will reflect the life he led and were a statement of his focus in following Jesus.

“Following Christ requires a self-examination by ourselves, of why we follow.”

Jesus finds Philip and recognizes in him a stout and honest man. Philip will become one of the Jesus’s leading recruiters. When he meets Philip, he says, “Follow me.” Philip follows. Philip was the connection to Nathanael, Andrew, and Peter. In later life he is credited with traveling to many parts of the Middle East and preaching the Gospel. He represented the true nature of Christianity by following Christ. Not just physically, but spiritually. Following Christ requires a self-examination by ourselves, of why we follow. Do we follow for gain or profit? Or do we follow out of a real desire to know him? To give up our past lives requires a change of focus. It doesn’t mean we give up who we are and what we do, but we give up a previous focus. We change our attitude on why we do things.

“The first lines of his will described whom he followed and where his focus rested, with Jesus.”

For Henry Heinz, his focus could have been on squeezing out a few more dollars by not being generous to his employees. He could have increased his net worth by not being charitable. His focus, however, was to be successful in a way that supported his choice to follow. Certainly, lobbying for tougher food standards cost him margin dollars. The first lines of his will described whom he followed and where his focus rested, with Jesus.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

PARTING THOUGHTS

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

What do we have to give up?

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