What do you live for? The popular media is filled with invitations to live for the moment, with our eyes on our selves. “Just do it”. “Have it your way”. “I’m lovin’ it”. “YOLO” (You Only Live Once). “Life is good, stay awake for it”. “Indulge yourself”. “It’s my money, and I want it now!”… and the list goes on. This perspective is prevalent in the world, but it isn’t new! The parable of the rich man in Luke 12 includes the infamous slogan of a man whom God called a fool - “eat, drink and be merry”! This rich man’s life was centered around his possessions, and around his own pleasure. Sound similar to today’s world?
God calls us to live with a radically different viewpoint from this live-for-the-moment mentality. At first glance, I find it easy to brush those popular slogans aside, dismissing the possibility that their philosophy could actually be reflected in my own life. I know that this life isn’t everything, and that “having it my way” now can bring much heartache later. But does that head knowledge show itself in the words and actions that flow from my heart and daily life? Pondering on the words of Paul to the Corinthians compels me to search my heart more honestly.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
I believe this! But do I live it? This mind fixed on the the things that are not seen should manifest itself in all areas of my life, from mundane daily life to the biggest of decisions and hardest of circumstances. The applications of the call to live in light of eternity are endless! But some that come to mind for examination in my own life…
- Do I invest more time, money, and energy in dressing my outer self, or in renewing my inner self? I do want my “outer self” to represent my God well, but Peter reminds me that God values - in fact, sees as precious - adorning that is not merely external, but that focuses on the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit in the “hidden person of the heart” (1 Peter 3: 3-4).
- What about my time? This one is huge, and of incredible eternal significance. I can let minutes, hours, days, and even years slip by in a wasted heap of fruitless time. Or I can “seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), and learn from the great heroes of the faith who “confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth… desiring a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11: 13-16).
- Does my response to trying circumstances reflect that my hope is in God, or in this life? David’s hope was in God, and he could say with confidence, “He only is my rock… I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 62:6). In the Corinthians passage above, I see that Paul was able to endure affliction in his life because his gaze was not set on this earth. He knew that the best was yet to come, and that even the worst suffering he might experience on earth would fade to nothing compared to the joy that was to come in God’s presence in heaven.
- Do I view people in light of eternity, remembering that they have an immortal soul? When my eyes are set only on temporal things, I find myself quick to fear men and timid to share the Gospel - or other times, too self-focused to even think about the spiritual state of those around me. “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father…” (Luke 9:26). This is a challenging verse to ponder.
Grace and strength to live in the light of eternity, fixing my attention on what is not seen and on the “eternal weight of glory” that is yet to come, does not come from myself. I need to be reoriented daily - even moment by moment - to the truth about God and His Word, and spend time with those who will encourage me in the faith. God is faithful! He will keep every promise of grace for this life, and of unspeakable joy yet to come. Jesus set the example for us - He saw the joy that was set before Him! “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).