I ended Part One of this article by asking: If you had only two hours to live your entire life on this earth, and if what you did during those two hours determined your reward in heaven, what would you focus on? If this life on earth was reduced to a short period of time, what would your priorities be? What would you focus on? What would be important to you? Since our lives are stretched out over time and time seems to move slowly, however, usually we don’t think much about eternity.
So why should we think about eternity?
1 Cor. 15:29 says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Paul is saying that if we do not have the hope of the resurrection or eternal life; if there is no eternity in Christ and this life is all that we have; if this life is all that we are focusing on because there is no future in eternity, we have reason to be most miserable.
The good news, however, is that we do have hope in Christ of eternity in heaven! But even though heaven and eternity are real, if we fail to keep the reality of this in the forefront of our thinking, we may still find ourselves “most miserable”. In truth, this life is temporary, but most of us act like it is permanent. We focus all our time and energy and effort on temporal things. But God wants you to understand that you are made for eternity and that there is a bigger picture to see. You were created for eternity. You have an eternal purpose.
There are benefits for us in keeping our minds focused on eternity. Being heavenly minded and fixing our thoughts on eternal things keeps our perspective of this life balanced.
For one, an eternal perspective on life gives us clarity to why we are here. We remember that we are a part of our Heavenly Father’s family; the Family of God, the Body of Christ. We keep fresh in our minds both the present and eternal benefits of being a part of this family, and we want more people to join us in this family. A focus on eternal things reminds us: “This is why I’m here. To enlarge and expand God’s family.”
Another benefit of focusing on eternity is found in 1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when He shall be revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope on him purifies himself, even as that One is pure.” (NKJV)
Albert Barnes in his commentary of 1 John 3:3 says this: “The particular thought here is, that the hope of being like Christ, and of being permitted to dwell with him, will lead a man to earnest efforts to become holy, and will be actually followed by such a result.”
The Bible indicates that our focus on eternal things, or “being heavenly minded,” can actually inspire us to live a life that is holy or pleasing to our Heavenly Father. This motivation does not come from fear, but rather it comes from a heart and mind that is influenced by eternal thoughts.
Focusing on eternal things also reminds us that what we do in this life determines our eternal rewards. Now understand, there is a difference between eternal life and rewards. You cannot buy your place in heaven – the new birth is a gift – and if you are a Christian, through receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you already have the gift of eternal life. However, once we become Christians, our focus should to follow God’s plan for our life and to do what we can to expand God’s Kingdom.
1 Cor. 3:8 says, “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” 1 Cor. 3:14 reminds us, too, that, “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” And Matthew 6:20 declares, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal.” So there is a reward in heaven connected to what we do here on the earth.
The encouraging thing, however, is that the economy in heaven is stable! There is always a return on our investment. Too often, from a temporal perspective, we only think about natural investments. Natural investments are good, but what about eternal investments? Jesus said, you can store up treasure in heaven! You can invest in eternal things!
Now, that obviously doesn’t mean you take all your assets, liquidate them, write a check, swallow it, and “take it with you” when you die. It doesn’t work that way. You cannot take natural material things into the spiritual world. What you can do, however, are things that produce eternal rewards. You can participate in spiritual activities in this life, because you are a spiritual being. These are the things that will produce spiritual rewards or treasure in eternity.
The rewards are not our motivation, of course, but God does want us to know that what we do in this life will produce something in the life which is to come. Let’s purpose to be good stewards of what He has given us, making eternal investments with our lives, as we keep our eyes focused on things above.