He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 AMP)
I don’t usually make New Year resolutions because I try live each day or season for what it brings, but with an eternal perspective in everything I do.
The Book of James states:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. (James 4:13-15)
You may be the best businessman in your community or have the best job or career. You may grow the best crops and produce the finest animals. But if you don’t have a personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and you don’t strive to live for Jesus in every area of your life, then you are not living with an eternal perspective.
When it’s all be said and done, all our treasures will mean nothing. And there is only one thing that will stand the test of time: The love of Christ in our hearts.
For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died; And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
I read a story of an evangelist who visited a rich man one day on his neighbouring farm. The man had spent most of his life building the house of his dreams. He had lived in it a mere three months and was sitting on the front veranda, totally wasted away from a terminal disease, the evangelist said to the rich man, What a beautiful house,” Tears filled the rich’s man’s eyes. Yes, evangelist, he responded, “but for what?” Three weeks later he died.
Jesus made this clear in His parable of the rich fool by pointing out that a man’s life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his needs. The man thought that he would pull down his storehouses and build larger ones, and there he would store or hoard all his grain, produce, and his goods.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many good things laid up, [enough] for many years. Take your ease; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself merrily. But God said to him, You fool!
This very night they [the messengers of God] will demand your soul of you; and all the things that you have prepared, whose will they be? So it is with the one who continues to lay up and hoard possessions for himself but doesn’t have a rich relationship with God.” [this is how he fares]. (See Luke 12:16-21 AMP)
What about you? Is what you are living for worth Christ dying for? What motivates you in business, job, ministry or career?Do you do your best to live for truth? For what do you wish to be remembered for? What if the offer money or success sidetracks you from your true calling?
Remember the more we aim at personal success, the less secure we become. We are threatened continually by the possibility that someone else will succeed more than us. That is why Solomon observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbours. But this, too, is meaningless like chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:4)
You can easily achieve what appears to be success and yet somehow become frustrated. Derek Prince wrote that he once heard a talk by the president of the well-known evangelical college. The majority of parents who send their children to that college are professing Christians. But the President had this to say:
I make it a point to ask each of my students, ‘When your parents sent you to this college, what did they tell you was the most important thing in your future? Was it to become a faithful servant of Jesus Christ? “Up to this point,’’ the president continued, “none of my students has ever answered yes.
If your son or daughter were to be enrolled in that college, how would he or she answer? If you are a father or mother you need to ask yourself questions like these:
- What kind of example have I been setting for my family?
- Am I giving my children eternal purposes and eternal standards to live by?
- Am I inculcating eternal values that will direct them into lives of service and obedience for Jesus Christ?
- Am I mainly concerned with worldly success-a career, material comfort, financial independence, and status in the community?
- Or am I compromising my standards and commitments for the sake of material prosperity and worldly success?
A Remarkable Interview
One of the greatest public servants in the history of England was William Gladstone (1809-1898) who served as prime minister four times during the latter half of 19th century. It is reported that Gladstone was a committed Christian and he also taught a Sunday school class throughout his adult life. In fact, his aim early in his life was to become an Anglican clergyman, but after his graduation from Oxford, his father encouraged him to enter politics.
Shortly before he died, Gladstone gave a speech in which he told about being visited by an ambitious young man who sought his advice about life. The young man told the elder statesman that he had admired him more than anyone living at that time and wanted to seek his advice regarding his career.
‘‘What do you hope to do when you graduate from college? Gladstone asked. The young man replied, I hope to attend law school, sir just as you did.’’
‘‘That’s a noble goal,’’ said Gladstone, ‘‘Then what?’’
‘‘I hope to practice law and make a good name for myself defending the poor and outcasts of society, just as you did.’’
‘‘That’s a noble purpose,’’ replied Gladstone. ‘‘Then what’’
‘‘Well, sir, I hope one day to stand for Parliament and become a servant of the people, even as you did.’’
‘‘That too is a noble hope. What then?’’ asked Gladstone.
‘‘I would hope to be able to serve in the Parliament with great distinction, evidencing integrity and a concern for justice—even as you did.’’
‘‘What then?’’ asked Gladstone
‘‘I would hope to serve the government as prime minister with the same vigour, dedication, vision, and integrity as you did.’’
‘‘And what then? Asked Gladstone.
‘‘I would hope to retire with honours and write my memoirs—even as you are presently doing—so that others could learn from my mistakes and triumphs.’’
‘‘All of that is very noble,’’ said Gladstone, ‘‘and then what?’’
The young man thought for a moment. ‘‘Well, sir, I suppose I will then die.’’
‘‘That’s correct,’’ said Gladstone. ‘‘And then what?’’
The man looked puzzled. ‘‘Well, sir,’’ he answered hesitantly, ‘‘I have never given that any thought.’’
‘‘Young man,’’ Gladstone responded, ‘‘the only advice I have for you is for you to go home, read your Bible, and think about eternity.’’
It is easy to be deceived by the temporary benefits of wealth, popularity, status, and achievement, and to be blind to the long-range benefits of God’s kingdom.
C. T. Studd’s Testimony
The missionary, famous British athlete, and founder of Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, C. T. Studd was saved in 1878 at the age of eighteen when a visiting preacher at their home caught him on his way to play cricket.
“Are you a Christian?” he asked. Studd’s answer was not convincing enough, so the guest pressed the point and Studd tells what happened as he acknowledged God’s gift of eternal life received through faith in Jesus Christ:
I got down on my knees and I did say ‘thank You’ to God. And right then and there joy and peace came into my soul. I knew then what it was to be ‘born again’ and the Bible which had been so dry to me before, became everything.
In 1884 after his brother George was taken seriously ill, Studd was confronted by the question, “What is all this fame and flattery worth… when a man comes to face eternity?” As a result of his experience, he said,
I know that cricket would not last, and honor would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it was worthwhile living for the world to come. C. T. Studd gave up all his achievements in this life for Christ’s sake. He was challenged to his commitment by an article written by an atheist. That article, in part, says:
If I firmly believed, as millions say they do, that the knowledge and practice of religion in this life influences destiny in another, then religion would mean to me everything. I would cast away earthly enjoyments as dross, earthly cares as follies, and earthly thoughts and feelings as vanity.
Religion would be my first waking thought and my last image before sleep sank me into unconsciousness. I should labour in its cause alone. I would take thought for the morrow of eternity alone. I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering.
Earthly consequences would never stay my hand, or seal my lips. Earth, its joys and its griefs, would occupy no moment of my thoughts. I would strive to look upon eternity alone, and on the immortal souls around me, soon to be everlastingly happy or everlastingly miserable.
I would go forth to the world and preach to it in season and out of season, and my text would be: “WHAT SHALL IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE GAINS THE WHOLE WORLD AND LOSE HIS OWN SOUL.
Still further, and what was better than all, Studd set himself to work for Jesus Christ, and, he says,
I began to try and persuade my friends to read the Gospel, and to speak to them individually about their souls. I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures that this world can give…but those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave me.
Studd continues to be best remembered by this poem, Only One Life ‘ Twill Soon Be Past Only What’s done for Christ will last.
There is a higher level of wealth than material success. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Moses considered the contempt and abuse and shame [borne for] the Christ (the Messiah Who was to come) to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt, for he looked forward and away to the reward (recompense).” (Hebrews 11:26 AMP)
True wealth is having an eternal perspective in everything we do. When we strive to love, know and serve our Creator and our fellow men with our gifts and talents; it helps us look beyond the world’s value system to see the eternal values of God’s kingdom.
None of us determines the date of our birth or our death, but we determine what we do between those dates. We need to live each year as if it were our last because as someone correctly said, “what we do in life echoes in eternity.” Happy New Year!
Photo courtesy: Heavens Call