Living in Light of Eternity
Late in the fall of 1981, my wife and I made a decision that has forever changed our lives. We decided to bring a child into the world. Nine months later God blessed us with a beautiful and healthy baby girl. Since that day our lives have never been the same. No longer could we simply think of ourselves. Now we needed to think ahead to make sure our daughter had food, clothing, adult supervision, and much more. From the day we decided to start a family, we have needed to live in light of that decision. For those of us who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our only hope for eternal life, we should be living every day in light of that decision. We should be living in light of eternity.
In Hebrews 11:23-28 we learn that Moses was a man who lived not merely for the here and now, but for the hereafter. The evidence of this testimony is in the decisions he made. Moses refused the allurement of the world. Verse 24 says, “he…refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” At this point in history, Egypt was the leading nation of the world in power, prestige, education, and pleasures. All of this was at the fingertips of Moses. According to the historian Josephus, Moses was even in line for the throne of this advanced civilization. All of these things were more than a mild distraction, they were undoubtedly a powerful temptation pulling Moses away from living the life God wanted for him. We today can certainly understand the pull of the world, because we feel it in our lives too. That’s why Paul warned Timothy “no man that warreth (in working for the Lord) entangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4). There is certainly nothing wrong with working hard to provide for our families, in fact it is a noble act. But it is so easy to become distracted with these necessities to the point where we lose sight of what is really most important.
As the story goes, a young banker was driving his BMW in the mountains, during a snow storm. As he rounded a turn the vehicle slid out of control and toward a deep precipice. At the last moment he unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped from the car. Though he escaped with his life, his left arm was caught near the hinge of the door and torn off at the shoulder. A trucker passing nearby witnessed the accident, stopped his rig, and ran back to see if he could be of help. There standing, in a state of shock, was the banker at the edge of the cliff moaning, “Oh my BMW, my BMW.” The trucker pointed to the banker’s shoulder and said “man you’ve got bigger problems than a car.” With that the banker looked at his shoulder, finally realizing he’d lost his arm, and began crying, “Oh my new Rolex, my new Rolex.” The pull of the world can easily steal our affections away, and cause us to live for the wrong things. But believers must live in light of eternity.
Hebrews 11:25 tells us that Moses chose affliction and association with God’s people, instead of “the pleasures of sin for a season.” It was not politically correct or personally advantageous for Moses to choose an enslaved nation living in poverty, over living in luxury with those in power. But this man of God was not looking at the short term. He was looking at what was best in the long run. Like Abraham before him, he considered himself to be a stranger and pilgrim on earth. Instead of earthly riches, he “looked for a city… whose builder and maker is God…an heavenly…city” (Heb. 11:10-16). For this kind of living in light of eternity, he was one of whom it could be written “God is not ashamed to be called their God.”
In 1955 Mr. Akio Morita’s company invented the first portable transistor radio. Because he lacked the funds and connections to adequately market it, he entertained an offer from Bulova to sell his product, and provide him with a handsome profit; but he refused. The catch for him was that his product would be marketed under the Bulova name, instead of his company’s name. Mr. Morita persevered, and his company later invented the first VCR, and portable CD player. The company name, SONY. But this huge success story might never have been written had one man not looked beyond what was easy and immediately gratifying. For the believer in Christ, we may stand ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ if we are so short sighted that we live only for the here and now, instead of the hereafter.
Moses made these first two decisions because he “esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasure of Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of reward” (Heb. 11:26). One might truly call this a proper value system. He chose to place more value on eternal reward, than on earthly gain. Which is exactly what every believer needs to do. Romans 8:18 reminds us “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,” II Corinthians 4:16-18 urges us to desire an “eternal weight of glory…(and to keep our priorities on the things which) are eternal.” Hebrews 10:34 summarizes it all by reminding us it is possible for us to “have in heaven a better and enduring substance.” The right kind of value system will desire eternal reward more than the fading and fleeting riches of earth. Is this what you value most?
Several hundred years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a town, the next a government. The third year the government planned to build a road five miles into the wilderness. The fourth year they tried to impeach the government because they thought it was a waste of money to build such a road. Here was a group of people who had the vision to travel thousands of miles and endure many hardships, but in just a few years had lost the vision to see even five miles into the wilderness. Believer friend, have you traveled many miles since first trusting Christ, even endured many hardships, but at present have lost your vision of eternal reward and how valuable that will be? Is it time to start living once again in light of eternity?
One thing gave Moses the needed stability to consistently live for the Lord. He had a close personal relationship with God. In the context of Hebrews 11:25, which refers to Moses “esteeming the reproaches of CHRIST greater riches,” verse 27 says “he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Moses was keenly aware that he lacked the strength and wisdom to face each day alone. So, he regularly communed with the Lord, loved His words enough to record them with great care, exhibited great faith in his Lord, and ran to Him often with his problems. It was this kind of closeness and dependency upon the Lord that enabled Moses to live for the hereafter, instead of just the here and now. One might say, he kept his eyes on the Lord.
On July 4, 1952 a young woman named Florence Chadwick waded into the water off Catalina Island intending to swim the channel to the California coast. Long distance swimming was not new to her: she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. But on this day the water was numbingly cold and a heavy fog rested over the water. She swam for 15 hours before asking to be taken out of the water by her team that followed her in boats. Her trainer urged her to keep going because she was close, only one mile from shore. But Florence just couldn’t make it. “I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen the land I might have made it.” Two months later she did make it, because this time she could see her goal with every stroke. Believers, if we are to achieve the goal of living in light of eternity, and do so over the long haul, then we are going to have to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ in a living daily relationship.
Abraham, Sarah, Moses, the Apostle Paul, and many other saints of the past were successful in living for the hereafter, and we can too. If this is really what you want for your life, then you will have to make five choices every day. You will have to choose to value eternal reward more than earthly gain. By no means does this mean that you become negligent about work or financial responsibilities. Moses cared for flocks in the desert, and later for the daily needs of an entire nation. The Apostle Paul made tents to provide for his needs. But in both cases working for the Lord, obeying Him, and proclaiming God’s message for the day was most important. It was their priority and passion. Make it yours too. Choose to “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). What we embrace emotionally as being important is a choice of our will. We can decide to “love” cars, jewelry, houses, clothes, and the such, but these things will only leave us feeling empty here and in eternity. But we can “prepare our hearts” to love our Saviour, our heavenly home, the prospect of reigning with Christ in eternity, and the incorruptible rewards awaiting us. Think about these things, talk about them, and set your affections upon them.
Choose to be content with what you have. We learn from I Timothy 6:9 “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” Many a believer has become so preoccupied with getting ahead, and getting things, that these pursuits have stolen their hearts away from the Lord. The end result is that one often considers himself so busy that there is little time left for the Lord, or His work. God’s advice is “having food and raiment [clothing] let us there with be content” (6:8). But we should choose not to be content to be poor in eternal rewards. Often believers bemoan “I’ll only be a street sweeper or stable cleaner in eternity.” Shame on us if this is so, or if we even think it will be so. We’re told to “redeem the time” and make the most of it. We’re told to “be rich in good works” (I Tim. 6:18). Don’t settle for a selfish life of pleasing yourself now, and end up with little or no rewards in eternity. No one should be content with that.
Last, choose to maintain a close relationship with the Lord everyday. That’s going to mean disciplining yourself to have daily Bible reading, continual prayer, and regular attendance at church. During these times, seek to apply and implement into your daily life the principles of godliness understood rightly divided. It will also mean learning to trust the Lord in times of trial, seeking to honor Him with all that you have, and to maintain a pure conscience before Him. Living in light of eternity simply cannot be done in our own strength. It can only be done as we are “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10).
On April 14, 1912, at 10:00 p.m. the Titanic crashed into an iceberg and in four hours sank, carrying hundreds to their death. One woman in a life boat asked if she could go back to her room. She was given only three minutes to do so. She hurried down the corridors, already tilting dangerously, through the gambling room piled ankle deep with money. In her fancy estate room were treasures waiting to be taken, but instead she snatched up three oranges and hurried back to the boat. One hour earlier she would have naturally chosen diamonds over oranges but, in the face of death, values are seen more clearly. If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, apart from any good works of your own, as your only hope for eternal life, then you are now in the life boat of salvation. Your values should be much clearer than those of the unsaved around you. You should realize that you need to be living every day in light of eternity. If you haven’t recently, then right now is the time to make the choices we’ve just studied about. Will you do so now, before it’s eternally too late?