As a child, I lived for the moment. All that mattered was what I was doing at that specific time. It may have been swimming at the municipal pool. Perhaps it was playing with cars and trucks in the driveway. Maybe it was riding my bicycle or eating ice cream. Whatever it was I was doing, right then, that was what mattered.
As I aged, my parents and teachers began exposing me to the idea of planning ahead. "You must apply yourself to your studies now so you will be prepared for your future." In elementary school I had to think about and prepare for middle school. I 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 younger employee, financial planners clamored for my attention and my money, telling me I needed to plan for retirement. I needed to start right away, laying up that "nest egg" so that I could enjoy my retirement years.
From a certain perspective, all of this sounds quite reasonable. The reality, however, is that this mentality and teaching is frighteningly unbiblical.
An Uncertain Tomorrow
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
When we ponder what James is saying, we quickly recognize that he is not discussing ambitions regarding material wealth - homes, boats, automobiles, resort living, and jewelry. Oh no! That's the easy stuff. Where James is challenging us is in our view of time.
We speak of the future as a certainty, as something that is far ahead of us. Oh there is still a lot of time for all of that. We segment our lives into thirty-year mortgages, sixty month automobile payoffs, and we speak of "the golden years" without ever considering that we may never see them, and if we do, it will feel as though forty years ago was yesterday.
When we examine our lives, our priorities, our focus, our use of time and resources, on what do we fixate? Our physical comforts? Future retirement? Easy living? Any objective rooted this side of the grave is a misguided desideratum, and it is indicative of our 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.
Embracing the Long View
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 exhort you to live life with eternity in view such that when Jesus returns we will not "shrink from him in shame at his coming" (1 John 2:28).
Understand where "home" really is, so that you plan not for a retirement here, but for an eternity with Jesus. As the Apostle Paul wrote, when we die, we who belong to God are “absent from the body” and “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. - 2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV-1984
What are these eternal things upon which we are supposed to be fixing our eyes?
Below is a rapid-fire smattering of passages that enumerate what our eternal perspective should be. I recognize the danger inherent in pulling passages from their context in this way, but my hope is that the sheer volume of scripture will be impactful, and effective at persuading you of the importance of maintaining an eternal perspective.
1. Eternal Life: As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. - John 3:14-16, NASB
2. Eternal Salvation: And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. - Hebrews 5:9, ESV
3. Eternal Redemption: He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. - Hebrews 9:12, NIV-1984
4. Eternal Purpose: This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. - Ephesians 3:11-12, NASB
5. Eternal Covenant: Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. - Hebrews 13:20-21, NASB
6. Eternal Inheritance: For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. - Hebrews 9:15, NASB
7. Eternal Weight of Glory: For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, - 2 Corinthians 4:17, ESV
8. Eternal Kingdom: For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. - 2 Peter 1:11 - ESV
9. Eternal Glory in Christ: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. - 1 Peter 5:10, ESV
That is an astonishing list.
Life, salvation, redemption, purpose, covenant, inheritance, weight of glory, kingdom, glory in Christ — all of that of transcendent value, surpassing anything temporal to such an degree that even trying to make a comparison is an absurdity. We limit ourselves pitiably when we think only in terms of this vaporous life.
The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
- Deuteronomy 33:27a - NASB
The concept of eternity is found throughout scripture, occurring no fewer than eighty-two times, with forty-four of those being a direct reference to eternal life. Keep the long view my friends. There is so much more available to us than what we now see and feel.
Blessings upon you my friends.
Victoriously in Christ!
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