Thus far in this series, we’ve been talking about what eternity is and the importance of keeping an eternal perspective in our present-day lives. In part three, I want to encourage you to make all of this practical in your life by becoming a good manager of the spiritual abilities God has given to you.
1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” The word “gift” means something that is supernatural; not a natural talent that you inherited from your parents. This is a supernatural gift or ability that God placed in your spirit at the new birth.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that everyone has received a gift? Not one of us has been left out. And we are to use that gift. Peter instructs us to serve one another as what? Good stewards of the manifold grace of God. That means every gift has its own particular grace, too. And every gift we have is designed to be given away.
God has placed a supernatural, spiritual ability on the inside of you, and you are to use it to serve one another. It is not for you. If you live your life only thinking “what’s in it for me”, you’ll never discover why you are here and what God has deposited in you. God designed for you to be a channel, a pipeline, of blessing. You are a channel of God’s blessing and anointing and life and power, and He wants to deliver it through you to someone in need. In the process, you will be blessed, too.
Everyone has a different ability and you are to use that ability to build up the church; to build up the Kingdom of God. So in other words, the abilities that God has given you are to be used primarily for building up the church, which is a spiritual work that has eternal outcomes. If that becomes your primary purpose in life, then there will be an unending supply of resources and benefits for you in this life.
1 Tim. 6:17-19 – Charge the rich in this world that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, He offering to us richly all things to enjoy, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to share, to be generous, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Notice what these verses do not say: “Charge them that are rich to give all of their money away.” No. Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not what? High minded. In other words, understand that God gave you everything. He gave you an ability to gain wealth for a purpose. What purpose? Notice the next verse: “…that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to share, to be generous…”
What is Paul saying? Simply this: Use the resources that God has given to you to benefit the expansion of the Kingdom of God. Support the work of God. Help those who are in need. There are eternal consequences both for the people you help and bless, and eternal rewards connected to what you do from proper motivation. When what we do with what we have is done for eternal purposes, it produces a reward. God understands we have to have money to live, but He also wants us to use the resources we have and to channel them in a way that produces eternal results.
God has given us more than just financial resources to steward, however. In fact, this whole series has been about focusing more on eternal things than temporal things, and being a good steward means we are all called to become involved in spiritual activities. One of the greatest spiritual resources He’s entrusted to us is prayer. We are to steward this gift as well.
1 Tim. 2:1-4 First of all, then, I exhort that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Look, again, at verse 4: “Who will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth.” When we are involved with prayer, and specifically with intercession, we join ourselves with the Great Intercessor, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is God’s heart: the world, people, the expansion of the Kingdom of God. He wants everyone to experience eternity.
Again, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take care of ourselves and focus on our natural duties and responsibilities. What I am saying is this: everything we do should come from an eternal perspective and motivation. There is hardly a day that goes by in my life that I do not think about eternity, that I don’t think about standing before my maker, the Lord Jesus Christ, and giving an account to Him for what I’ve done in my life through this body. I don’t do that because of fear or guilt or condemnation. I do so out of respect and reverence to God and the awesomeness of His power and the awesomeness of His Kingdom.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good”? Do you know who first made that statement? Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. I don’t know if he is the originator of that statement, but over time, he is the one who has received the credit for these words. But this statement did not come from the Bible. We understand what the words are trying to convey, but unfortunately many people have taken them to an extreme.
A counter-perspective to Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.’s statement was made by pastor and author John Piper:
Yes, I know. It is possible to be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly use. My problem is: I’ve never met one of those people. And I suspect, if I met one, the problem would not be that his mind is full of the glories of heaven, but that his mind is empty, and his mouth is full of platitudes. I suspect that for every professing believer who is useless in this world because of other-worldliness, there are a hundred who are useless because of this-worldliness.
Another famous scholar and writer, C. S. Lewis, shares additional insight in his book Mere Christianity.
If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.
I agree with C.S. Lewis. I think the people who are most heavenly minded do the most for the Kingdom of God because heaven becomes what motivates them.
You might read all this and say, “I’m not called to be a preacher. I’m not called to be a missionary.” Perhaps not. But you are called to be an ambassador. In the end, it doesn’t matter what label you have. We are all members of the Body of Christ. There is no part that is better than any other part. Every single one of us have received a gift from God and we are commissioned to use it to expand the Kingdom of God.
Just because you’re not a missionary or a full-time preacher does not give you the excuse to say, “Well, that’s not my focus.” If you’re a Christian, you’re in the Body of Christ. You’re called by God. You’re in the Ministry of reconciliation. We’re all in this together. We’re all called to be good stewards.
Each one of us have been given a mission and, thank God, He will help us. He will empower us. He will give us direction. My prayer is that, in reading this series, you have been reminded to see the big picture of why you are here on this planet. May every day bring us greater opportunities to refocus on those things that are most important to God and to our eternal destiny. Let’s purpose to be heavenly-minded in all we say and do.