As a child, I lived for the moment. All that mattered was what I was doing at that very time. Perhaps I was swimming at the local pool. Maybe I was playing with cars and trucks in the driveway. I might have been riding my bicycle or eating ice cream. Whatever it was, that was what mattered.
As I aged, my parents and teachers began implanting within me the idea of planning ahead. “You must apply yourself to your studies now to be prepared for your future.” In elementary school I had to think about and prepare for middle school. In middle school I had to think about and prepare for high school. In high school I had to think about and prepare for university, and in university, I had to think about and prepare for life.
As a young employee, financial planners clamored for my attention and my money, telling me I needed to plan for retirement. I needed to start immediately, laying up that “nest egg” so that I could enjoy my retirement years.
All of this sounds so reasonable, from a certain perspective. The reality is that this mindset is frighteningly unbiblical.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. – James 4:13-14, ESV
At this point, we are not discussing ambitions regarding material wealth, homes, boats, automobiles, resort living, and jewelry. We are discussing nothing more than our view of time. When we examine our lives, our priorities, our focus, our use of time, and use of resources, on what are we fixating? Physical comforts? Future retirement? Ease of living?
Any objective this side of the grave is a misguided desideratum. It is spiritual myopia.
Here is Jesus’ take on the matter:
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'” – Luke 12:16-20, ESV
Here is the picture of a man who is planning ahead. His nest-egg is abundant. He is envisioning his future of ease, relaxation, and merriment. If you read the man’s thought process above, you will find thirteen personal pronouns, all focused on self. God, in his response, tells the man that such talk is the talk of fools.
Friends, this is why we at Long-View Living Ministries continually call men and women to embrace Long-View Living in a Short-View World. We strive to live life in such a way that when Jesus returns we will not “shrink from him in shame at his coming.” (1 John 2:28)
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18, NASB
The apostle Paul encourages us to “build” a life, but to do so on a solid foundation of Jesus Christ, and using materials that hold eternity in view. As Christ-followers, we have no time in this vapor of a life for trivialities. We focus on what is eternal. I submit to you that the eternal viewpoint is one wherein we engage in the “good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10b, WEB)
Consider some of the eternals we are made mindful of through scripture:
- Eternal Life – Matthew 19:29, Luke 9:25, many more.
- Eternal Salvation – Mark 16:20, Hebrews 5:9, many more.
- Eternal Dwellings – Luke 16:9, 2 Corinthians 5:1
- Eternal Weight of Glory – 2 Corinthians 4:17
- Eternal Purpose – Ephesians 3:`11
- Eternal Comfort – 2 Thessalonians 2:16
- Eternal Glory – 2 Timothy 2:10, 1 Peter 5:10
- Eternal Redemption – Hebrews 9:12
- God’s Eternal Spirit – Hebrews 9:15
- Eternal Inheritance – Hebrews 9:15
- Eternal Covenant – Hebrews 13:20
- Eternal Kingdom – 2 Peter 1:11
- Eternal Gospel – Revelation 14:6
These constitute just a handful of “eternals” in scripture. There are so many more. Also, note that these are the positive ones. Scripture also speaks of eternity in terms of destruction, bonds, fire, and damnation.
The phrase “eternal life” is written no fewer than forty-four times in the New Testament. That has to capture our attention!
Embrace Long-View Living in a Short-View World and say with the psalmist, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things, and revive me in Your way.” (Psalm 119:37)