It’s so easy to just live for today, for the temporal, for the here and now. Yet, it’s the life after this one, that will last the longest and how we live here will directly impact how we will live there.
A while ago I preached a sermon on the subject. I hope it encourages you. In James 4:14 we read, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
The scripture tells us that some things that are highly esteemed by men, are detestable to the Lord and one day we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account for how we lived. So, if that’s the case, eternity is worth us shifting some things around in our lives for, right?
When we look to the Word of God, we discover that in eternity,
1. It’s people over popularity.
The truth is, there’s only one thing you can take to heaven and that’s people. People matter more than anything! Look at the story of Lazarus, Abraham and the rich man. In Luke 16:27, the rich man said ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’
The rich man had money, affluence and influence. But in eternity that didn’t count for anything. And what did he ask for? He said, “Send Lazarus back to warn my brothers.”Why?
Because WHAT WILL MATTER IN ETERNITY IS PEOPLE, WHO DID WE HELP FIND JESUS, WHO DID WE IMPACT FOR ETERNITY?
In this life, popularity is often esteemed as the highest currency. How many like, shares, or followers you’ve got. But in eternity it will be who did we help find Jesus, who did we disciple, who did we encourage to follow God?
Jesus doesn’t say, “Well done good and famous servant.”
He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
It doesn’t matter who knows your name. It matters who you led to know His.
2. It’s obedience over progress
The fact is your obedience is actually more important to God than what you accomplish for Him. Did you know it’s possible to be achieving great success in the name of God all the while living in complete disobedience to Him.
1 Samuel 15:22 tells us, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”
Not so long ago I felt as though I was having almost a spiritual mid-life crisis. I realised not what I was doing was off, but the why I was doing it. I wanted to be effective and esteemed. I wanted to be recognised and highly regarded in my service to God. Again, none of those things are bad. But my motive was actually self-centred, not obedience focused.
Our job isn’t to strive for success, but to simply follow what god is calling us to do.
I remember a few times when new cities were being announced for our church, Kingdomcity, people would regularly ask me, “Oh are you guys going there? When will you Sabrina be sent out to lead a city?” And I’d think to myself, “How successful do you think it could become? Would it be a large church one day?” or even, “I wonder what our standard of living be in that place.” Sadly, the question “I wonder if God is calling us to go” was often the last thing on my list.
The problem is we still so often hide our secret desires instead of revealing them to the Lord and having Him purify our hearts.
True success in eternity isn’t linked to how successful I look, but did I obey God, did I do what He called me to do?!
I won’t have to give an account for what God asked someone else to steward, I’ll have to give an account for what God asked me to take care of. And that looks different for every person, so don’t compare, just listen, follow and obey.
3. Giving over getting
So many of us are always trying to gain, gain, gain. But so clearly it’s what we give that makes all the difference in eternity!
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20
It’s not actually a noble thing to spend all you have on just you and yours. Yes, I need to care for my wife and kids. But if I only care for my wife and kids that’s called selfish, not sacrifice. Now don’t hear what I’m not saying. Go ahead and renovate your home or enjoy the good things that God has given to you. Just live beyond that. In our family we budget to be generous. We make it our aim to follow the leading of the Lord when He asks us to give or bless someone.
It’s not about equal giving, but the level of sacrifice. You can be generous with $10 and stingy with $10,000.
In the movie Schindlers List we see, ‘The true story of Czech born Oskar Schindler, a businessman who tried to make his fortune during the Second World War by exploiting cheap Jewish labour, but ended up penniless having saved over 1100 Polish Jews from almost certain death during the Holocaust.’ Towards the end, Oskar is seen literally holding a pin saying, ‘“I could have sold this and saved two more. This gold, they would have given me two more, at least one. They would have given me one.”
What a powerful picture to use our wealth to not just live comfortably, but to use it to reach people for Eternity.
No one will get to heaven and wish they’d bought that new car or lived in a bigger house. But we may wish that we’d given more, that we’d been wiser with our earthly wealth to make an eternal difference.
4. motive over performance
Did you know that why you do what you do, can be more important than what you do?
In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Paul writes “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
In his book, ‘The Final Quest’, Rick Joyner talks about people who receive little recognition on earth being highly esteemed by God, because they simply did what He told them to do. And vice versa, influential pastors and teachers receiving less recognition because their motives were to build their own empire and not God’s Kingdom.
Ps Rick shares a story or a homeless man who was held to high honour. This man had only won one person to the Lord, but he literally laid down his life for that person and lived with such humility. Many others, like praying mums, grandmas, children and missionaries were greatly esteemed because they lived with pure motives, to simply please the Lord and love others.
A W Tozer wrote, “Self has done many good things in this world. It has built hospitals, orphanages, fed the hungry and clothed the poor. Self has been busy doing many good works. But the problem with these good works is that self, requires the glory for it all.”
Wow!!! The action can look the same, but it’s the heart that counts. Anything done with selfish ambition is done in vain when it comes to the Kingdom. As a preacher, I regularly have to search my heart. Is it my desire to really love and bless people, or do I thrive on the affirmation I receive after preaching a good sermon? But if I’m not doing out of a love for God and people, it won’t count for anything.
Our agenda for doing something will always be more important to God, than doing it perfectly.
5. intimacy over power
And lastly, intimacy over power. Jesus said in Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
The truth is, we can walk in power and authority seeing signs, wonders and miracles, but actually lack intimacy with God.
Knowing Him and being know by Him is actually our highest honour and greatest reward.
Eternity is about Jesus. He is the treasure in the field, the pearl of great price. Let this life be one where pursue Him as a priority and worship Him in spirit and truth.
Written by Ben Peters and first published on sabrinapeters.com. Sabrina Peters is a Christian writer, an avid Sex & Relationships blogger and part of the team at Kingdomcity. She is married to Ben and mother to Liberty & Lincoln. www.sabrinapeters.com.