“What we do in life echoes in eternity!” – Maximus from the film Gladiator.
A great line from a great movie, yet how many of us truly live with eternity in mind?
There are far too many people doing nothing more in life than seeking to create their own “heaven on earth;” living with the sole purpose of accomplishing goals, exceeding their own previous limitations and accumulating material wealth. I must say that until coming to personally know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 2014, I also fell into that category. In fact, one of the most astounding proofs I have of God’s transformative work in my life is the dramatic change in my heart’s desires.
We all too easily fall into the trap of the comparison game; comparing our lives to the lives of those we feel have it all. We might compare possessions, careers, social status or physical appearance. One major problem is that those who are caught up in the vain pursuits of this world spend all their time living toward the vision they have for their life in the future to the point that they often miss the most precious gifts and moments in their lives in the here and now.
Our Lord Jesus made it pretty clear where our focus should be:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 (emphasis added)
Contrary to what many prosperity gospel and word of faith teachers will lead you to believe, material wealth and success are NOT a sign of God’s favor. This should be pretty common sense considering that worldly success is what the devil promises to those who follow him and NOT what God promises. However we also must know that there is not innate piety in poverty either. God certainly can and will prosper some, but it would be wrong of us to think that if we don’t have worldly success we aren’t loved by God. John Piper has an awesome quote to put this in perspective:
“If God’s love for his children is to be measured by our health, wealth, and comfort in this life, God hated the apostle Paul.”
Understanding how to navigate our lives on this earth is incredibly important! As sinful humans we can all too easily stumble and fall and make choices that appeal to our desire for instant gratification and earthly desires instead of living with our mind set on God’s kingdom and God’s desires.
While some live their life in abundance and luxury, others lives are full of constant struggle and hardship. Truthfully, for the believer we all too easily can find ourselves coveting the lives of the “successful” asking God why the wicked prosper (Job 21:7, Jeremiah 12:1). However, when we find ourselves losing our peace we are most likely putting our focus on our temporal lives on earth instead of our eternity in heaven.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (emphasis added)
Studying the life and teachings of the Apostle Paul is surely one of the best ways to keep our lives in perspective while we are on this side of eternity. While God has been continually dealing with my heart in this matter after breaking free of an adult life of vain and selfish pursuits, I recently found this incredibly valuable:
“Wealth comes from the Lord, says Paul. But don’t get too attached to it. What you have, use for the furtherance of the gospel and for the betterment of those around you. Expect that hardship will come your way. And never forget that one day Jesus will roll up this earth like a ball of yarn and will bestow upon us a body that will never decay, never hurt, never be in need of food or gold or earthly riches. In other words, lead your life here below as a responsible steward so that one day, at the judgment, God Himself will richly reward you (Matthew 25:21).” – Hank Hanegraaff, “Christianity in Crisis” pg. 242
Life is but a vapor that appears for a while and then vanishes (James 4:14). The better we are at studying and applying God’s word to our lives and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our steps, the easier it will be to live a life focused on sowing seeds into God’s eternal Kingdom instead of falling into the traps of this world. If we want to live a life with eternity in mind, the words of C.T. Studd’s poem will absolutely keep us focused on what is important:
Only one life,
’Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done,
for Christ will last.
While the world pulls you in directions contrary to Christ, how do you live with eternity in mind?