Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" Psalm , New International Version. Our death is coming. So is God's judgment. Taking this to heart leads us to live wisely, striving to live a life that pleases God, rather than chasing the temporary pleasures of this life. As Hebrews says, "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
We should recognize that "normal" values - the values of the society around us, and too often our own values - are badly out of line. Instead, we should value eternal things - value them with our minds, with our hearts, and with our actions. We should make eternal things our priority, giving them our attention, our time, and our energy. We should do so whether our culture agrees with us or not. We should value eternal things even in the face of endless advertisements that attempt to lure us to value what is temporary. We are strangers and aliens in this world see Hebrews , I Peter , Philippians In Michael Card's beautiful phrase, we "belong to eternity, stranded in time.
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My house, for example, is not my real home. We should bear these things in mind.
We should guard our hearts, making sure that we do not give them to the temporary things of this world. We should be full of joy, overflowing with worship and thankfulness to God. In Christ, He has given us what is most valuable - Himself, and eternal life in heaven with Him. We still have problems and issues, but He has solved for us our biggest problem, which we were helpless to solve ourselves - that we were sinful, and justly deserving of eternal wrath from a holy God. Compared to this, none of our other problems matter. As Jesus said in Mark , "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
God rescued us from our hopeless position, and gave us eternal life with Him. How can we not rejoice and worship Him? Finally, we should respond with wholeharted pursuit of eternal things. In Matthew , Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. Let us believe that, not just with our minds, but with our hearts and our actions.
Let us seek and live for the eternal rather than the temporary. At this point, let us note very clearly that we cannot pursue "eternal things" or "the kingdom of heaven" as if they were somehow independent of God Himself. On the contrary, He is the King of the kingdom of heaven.
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He is the greatest and most valuable of eternal things, and without Him all the others lose their luster. Seeking to value and live for eternal things means seeking to value and live for God most of all.
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A focus on eternal things does not mean that we ignore temporary things. We have duties and responsibilities here, and we should not neglect them. But we should do them for the right reasons, and with the right priorities. In Luke , Jesus tells a parable about a servant who mis uses his master's resources to win friends for himself.
Like all of Jesus' parables, it has a point, which we read in verse 9: "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. In Colossians , Paul makes the same point with a different resource - time.
This moment is temporary, about to disappear. It is wise to use it for eternity if I have the opportunity to do so. Telling people about Jesus seems to be specifically what Paul has in mind.
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This is a way of redeeming - of "buying back" - this moment that is about to vanish. In II Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9, Paul is dealing with raising money for humanitarian aid. It concerns purely temporary things - temporary money to buy temporary food to feed temporary bodies.
But Paul says that this operation "is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself, and to show our readiness, taking precautions that no one should discredit us in our administration of this generous gift; for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" II Corinthians b How we handle temporary things changes how people view us, which affects whether they will listen to our message of salvation in Jesus Christ, which determines where they will spend eternity.
We therefore cannot be careless in how we handle temporary things. An eternal perspective teaches us not to focus on temporary things. They are less important and less valuable, but we cannot ignore them or handle them negligently. It's hard to maintain an eternal perspective. At least, it's hard for me. It's hard because the realities of this world both positive and negative slap us in the face many times each day, demanding our attention, and drawing our eyes away from eternity to here and now.
It's kind of like trying to admire a scenic mountain while you're being attacked by mosquitoes. The mountain is beautiful and majestic; the mosquitoes are trivial, but they are annoying and very immediate. With temporary things clamoring for our attention, it can help us to have reminders of eternity. An article like this can help.
But after reading it, temporary things continue to clamor, and it grows harder and harder to remember what the article said, just like it becomes harder to remember eternal things. In several places, the Bible gives instructions on reminders - monuments for example, Joshua , , written reminders Deuteronomy , , Passover Exodus , and the Lord's Supper I Corinthians The overall idea seems to be a reminder that confronts you over and over, to help you remember - to not just remember once, but rather to remember throughout your life.
Such reminders are useful. However, they can easily become so routine that they don't register any longer. You see this happen repeatedly to Israel in the Old Testament - they had the reminders, but they were no longer reminded by them.
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This is not to say that such reminders are a bad thing. In fact, they were given by God, and they can be very helpful. But, in general, they are not enough. Perhaps a better approach is to make this part of our spiritual disciplines. For example, you could make it part of your daily quiet time to think about what's eternal and what's not, and to try to align your affections and priorities with that reality.
Building such disciplines can be valuable, if they become habits of your heart. Unfortunately, it's easy for such things to become mere formalities. As prayers can become rote, and reading the scriptures merely reading some words, so remembering eternal things can become just a quick mental acknowledgement that does not touch my heart or change my actions.
Some or all of the things I have mentioned may help you. But an eternal perspective isn't just an intellectual matter - it's more about our values and our behavior. This means that there cannot be a formula for maintaining an eternal perspective. There is no procedure or method to follow that is guaranteed to work. Ultimately, living with an eternal perspective requires walking closely with God.
The first is that, if we have an eternal perspective, it will instruct us that we must walk in close fellowship with God, the Eternal One. He is worth seeking above all other things. If we really understand this, it compels us to seek to know Him and to walk with Him. The second sense in which maintaining an eternal perspective "requires walking with God" is this: only a close walk with God will empower us to maintain an eternal perspective.
Walking with Him changes how we view life, so that we see what is really important. It transforms our hearts, so that we value what He values. It gives us the strength and courage to give our lives to God and His kingdom, rather than to ourselves and our temporary pleasures. The result of walking with God, then, is that we live as an eternal perspective would tell us to live, even if we are not consciously thinking in those terms. Eternal things are more valuable than temporary things. By God's grace, may this concept change our thinking.
May it guide our perspective. May we believe it in our hearts. And may it transform our actions. Copyright by Mike Stimpson. Permission is freely granted to make and distribute full copies of this article, provided that they are not for profit or commercial use. Used by permission. Please note that free shipping does not include import fee deposits and other taxes and charges payable to government and customs authorities.
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Often the concept of eternity eludes man's grasp. That is simply because, all throughout this life, his thinking has been bound by notions of specific times and distances.