Monday, July 24, 2017

How Believing in Eternal Life Can Make You Wise

I saw on another blog where someone was asking if belief in eternal life is harmful or beneficial. I’m convinced that believing in eternal life can and should make many positive changes in how we live our lives.  I see this truth as part of a general principle:  the longer our time perspective is when we are making decisions, the wiser we will act.  Let’s look at how this principle works out at three levels:

Living Like There’s No Tomorrow

Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise.
Without leader, administrator, or ruler,
it prepares its provisions in summer; it gathers its food during harvest.
(Proverbs 6:6-8)

Sometimes we make decisions as if there will be no future consequences.  This is foolish.  Here are some examples:

* Eating more __________ (fill in the blank with your particular tempting food) than we should.  It tastes great the moment we are eating it, but we pay for it later.

* Using credit cards to pay for non-emergency items we really can’t afford.  It feels good to buy that _______ or enjoy _______ but the bill comes and it comes with interest.

* Committing adultery (a fling, an affair, a one night stand). If it didn’t feel good people wouldn’t do it.  But the long term consequences are devastating to families.

* Getting drunk or using drugs (illegal or prescription) for the temporary relief of stress.  Sure, you really do feel better for a little while.  But the price your body pays in the future is not worth it!

Planning for Tomorrow

Know well the condition of your flock, and pay attention to your herds,
for wealth is not forever; not even a crown lasts for all time.
When hay is removed and new growth appears and the grain from the hills is gathered in,
lambs will provide your clothing, and goats, the price of a field;
there will be enough goat's milk for your food-- food for your household and nourishment for your female servants.
(Proverbs 27:23-27 CSB)

Making small sacrifices now in order to reap benefits in the future is usually wise.  Here are some examples:

*  Eating healthy and getting some exercise requires some time and effort now, but in the long run we enjoy the benefits of better health.

* Reasonable savings for retirement and/or for a “rainy day” costs us a little now, but can greatly improve our lives in the future.

* Studying hard for a test might not be fun, but when you get better grades, and then get into a good college, and have the career you want, it is worth it!

Planning for Eternity

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
(Matthew 6:20 NIV)

The Bible takes the principle of living for the future to a whole new level by encouraging us to think about eternal consequences. The Bible teaches that those who trust in Christ will live forever with Him.  Beyond that, our Lord teaches that we will be rewarded in eternity for deeds we do here on earth (see Matthew 5:12, Matthew 24:46, 1 Corinthians 3:14,  Colossians 3:23-24, Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 11:26).

When making decisions we should not only think about the results tomorrow or twenty years from no., We should also think about what the results will be twenty thousand years from now!  That’s godly wisdom.

Here are some examples of the types of decisions we will make differently when we plan for eternity:

* We will give our time and money to help people who probably will never be able to pay us back in this life (see Luke 14:13-14).

* We will spend time interceding in prayer for people who may never know we prayed for them (see Matthew 6:6).

*  We will be willing to take risks, face danger, make sacrifices, and suffer in many ways for the cause of Christ and the completion of the Great Commission (see 1 Corinthians 15:32).

* We will avoid sin.  Every time I sin, I am foolishly acting as if there is no eternity.

Conclusion and Application

Christians believe in eternal life.  We believe that God will graciously reward us for the sacrifices we make for Him in this life.  Yet, we often act as if we did not believe these things.  I see many Christians acting as if their entire life goal is to minimize risk and suffering and maximize comfort, pleasure, and security during their few brief years on this earth. Oh, that the reality of eternity would fill our minds and grasp our hearts!  It would truly change how we live in thousands of small daily choices as well as in our big life changing decisions.

In order to help us to live with godly wisdom, here are some Bible passages to meditate on:

Luke 12: 16 Then He told them a parable: "A rich man's land was very productive.
 17 He thought to himself, 'What should I do, since I don't have anywhere to store my crops?
 18 I will do this,' he said. 'I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there.
 19 Then I'll say to myself, "You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself." '
 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared-- whose will they be? '
 21 "That's how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

NIV Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

NIV Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs-- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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