|LIVING TODAY WITH AN EYE TO ETERNITY
It’s been said that a person can be “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” On the surface that sounds like a good proverb, encouraging us to keep our feet on the firm ground of practical living, rather than being captivated by some vague notion of heaven that is more closely related to Greek mythology than it is to Biblical truth. But beyond the superficial perspectives that that hold many followers of Jesus in the grip of ignorance, we find this truth: if we are not heavenly minded in the correct way, we will be no earthly good at all, because we will find ourselves living for the wrong reasons, using the wrong strategies, and aiming at the wrong goals.
The way we as followers of Jesus live today should be directed by one reality: Jesus is coming back to the earth to take over the leadership of the planet, and His plan is to give rewards to His people according to how we have carried out our existence here. I don’t know for sure how much thought you have given to the statement you just read, but if you’re like most believers in America, you’ve not given much thought to it at all. The idea of Jesus actually returning to the earth to establish His Kingdom here has probably been a vague thought in the back of your mind, with little or no influence upon the decisions you make moment by moment, and day by day.
But I want to encourage you to think about this with a fresh perspective. Jesus was very clear with His disciples that He is coming again to evaluate the lives of His followers, and to reward them with assignments based on what they did with the stewardship they were given. Consider the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:
14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
Matt. 25:20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Matt. 25:24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
Matt. 25:26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
Matt. 25:29 “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Most of us have read that parable with very little understanding. Perhaps we’ve known that there is some sort of accountability over how we use our gifts and abilities, but what Jesus is laying out here is very specific and very sobering. He has given each of us a deposit, a stewardship of time, energy, and money, and He expects a return on His investment. For those that are faithful with what they’ve been given, and who invest their resources of time, energy and money in a way that is consistent with His character, there will be tangible, earthly, and eternal rewards. You see, the Kingdom of God is really coming to the earth, and Jesus really intends to have a leadership team that is made up of people that have embraced His agenda during this life. We are not going to spend eternity in a mythological heaven that is removed from the earth and has no tangible reality to it. Jesus is bringing heaven here, and He intends to do the Father’s will on earth in cooperation with people who have followed His lead in this life as preparation for the age to come.
Please understand that I am not speaking here of salvation. We gain entrance into the Kingdom of God by the power of the blood of Jesus, by confession of sin, repentance from evil ways, and by believing in our hearts that Jesus is the Son of God. Salvation – entrance into God’s Kingdom – is free and cannot be earned in any way. However, the Bible repeatedly refers to the reality of assessment, the accountability that Jesus, the Lord of the Kingdom, will demand from each of us as stewards in that Kingdom.
Therefore, the choices we make today about how we spend our time, energy, and money, about what we do with our thought life, and how we behave when no one is watching – those choices all have eternal consequences. There is continuity between this age and the age to come, and the individual choices we make from day to day matter more than we can imagine. Therefore it is very important that we gain understanding of what is important to Jesus, and begin to live in that way. We will give an account for the life we live, and the choices we make, and we will be rewarded magnificently if we are found faithful.
I encourage you to read through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and through the first two chapters of the Book of Revelation. That’s where Jesus is speaking to the churches that are prophetic pictures of the Church at the end of the age. He gives strong exhortations in both those sections, but in every instance, the call to obedience is motivated by the promise of great reward in the age to come. Jesus is wise. He created us with a longing for greatness, and He promises to deliver it to us if we will walk in a faithful stewardship of what we’ve been given.
Blessings on you all as you consider these things.