“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18 NKJV). This verse introduces an eternal perspective, which is needed to “look at” the unseen. Our life takes on a different perspective when weighed against eternity. Relationships, accomplishments, disappointments, and sufferings assume significant new meanings. We must learn to factor in the eternal as we calculate the meaning of the circumstances that blend together in the formula of life. An eternal perspective is needed for genuine rest and freedom. If we cultivate an eternal perspective, we save ourselves a lot of mistakes and heartache. Many people get tripped up on this issue. Many of the disappointments in people’s lives come because they fail to factor in the eternal. Without a regular reminder that this world is not our home, and that we are just passing through, we are forced to evaluate everything by arbitrary and superficial standards. Without an eternal perspective, we are relying only on what the world offers.
It Changes Our View Of Death
An eternal perspective helps us avoid a morbid preoccupation with death. Death does not have to loom on the horizon as the greatest calamity in life. It can be viewed healthfully as a necessary part of life. For the Christian, death is not an accident, but the portal into the presence of God. For the unsaved, death is the end. But for those who know Christ, it’s the beginning of a new eternal life.
There is something decidedly different about the death of a believer. The Bible never speaks about the physical dissolution of the believer’s body as death, but “sleep.” Lazarus was dead when Jesus said, “Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up” (Jn. 11: 11). To Christians Paul wrote, “I tell you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51). And he referred three more times to their physical death as “sleep” in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15. For the believer with an eternal perspective, death is a gain and a departure (Phil. 1:21-23; 2 Tim. 4:6), a friend not an enemy, another step on the path to heaven rather than a leap into unknown darkness.
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1). The body of the believer is called a tent because it is only the temporary lodging of the soul. The building from God, the eternal house in the heavens, is the spiritual body which the child of God will possess after death (1 Cor. 15:44). For the Christian death is a transition – the exchanging of a tent for an eternal building, a house not made with hands.
It Changes Our View Of Time
An eternal perspective means that time is the vestibule of eternity. It helps us see time as a gift to be invested for the glory of God and to be given to others. Each of us has 24 hours per day. How do we use them? Do we spend, save or invest them? Note that we use these same three verbs when speaking of our money. We should be as wise with how we spend our time as we are with how we spend our money. We are admonished to be wise, to walk carefully, and to watch how we invest our time (Eph. 5:15). We cannot add to or subtract from our time. And we cannot loan our time out for someone else to use.
The Christian who has no eternal perspective, tends to waste his time. If asked, “What are you up to?” he may answer, “I’m just killing time.” Many believers spend hours watching TV instead of using their time for prayer and Bible study. We need to live as if every minute counts – because it does. We cannot make more time. Once our time is gone, it is gone forever.
There are several exhortations about time in the Scriptures: “Walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph.5:15-16); and “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time” (Col. 4:5). Literally, “redeeming the time” means: to make wise use of every opportunity; to use time to the best possible advantage. We must recognize, appreciate, and take hold of every opportunity for God’s glory. The Christian with an eternal perspective will use his time to serve the Lord, witness for Christ and be a blessing.
We are stewards of our time just as we are stewards of our money and talents. Time is one of the things we shall give an account for at the judgment seat of Christ. This priceless gift comes every day when we receive a new supply of 24 hours we’ve never lived before and shall never live again.
It Changes Our View Of Aging
An eternal perspective is the only thing that can help us actually look forward to growing old. Aging has its liabilities, but there are also assets that can offset them. Getting older is intended to make us more mature, wise, gentle, thoughtful, considerate, gracious and sympathetic. Aging is not just something to be endured as an unfortunate, unavoidable evil. It is a part of God’s plan.
The world considers aging as something to be regretted and postponed as long as possible. All kinds of devices are used to prolong the illusion of youth. Aging is more than an unavoidable biological process. It is part of God’s design, and it has a purpose. When properly accepted, it becomes God’s finishing school for character education and enrichment before entering eternity.
One of God’s purposes in the aging process is to enable us to revise our values and priorities. Youth believes life is for pleasure, and self is the center. The goals of young adults tend to be success, power, and wealth. God intends the circumstances of life and advancing years to change this. Aging is meant to disenchant us with earth, orient us to heaven, and prepare us to meet God. The passing years, with their joys and sorrows, wean us from self-centeredness. Getting older is not getting better unless it is delivering us from self-love.
Upon retiring, Christians with the resources but no eternal perspective often try to satisfy their desires by doing the things they always wanted to do. They embark on vigorous programs of buying, traveling, sightseeing, entertainment, and other forms of self-pleasing. The less affluent spend their time in frustration, bemoaning their fate, envying others and languishing in self-pity. Retired believers with an eternal perspective realize the importance of prayer and use their time in intercession and communion with God. Since prayer is where the real spiritual action is, and is the most important thing anyone can do for God and man, old age can be the most productive period of life. According to John Wesley, from heaven’s standpoint, more victories are won in prayer than in the pulpit. He said, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.”
We are exhorted to meditate on God’s Word “day and night” (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2). During our active years it’s difficult to find sufficient time for study. But retired Christians with an eternal perspective can use their time to read, study and meditate on the Scriptures.
It Changes Our View Of Suffering
God always has a good purpose when He permits suffering. Some trials are allowed that God might be glorified. Adversity is an important tool God uses to advance us spiritually (Rom. 5:3-5). It weans us from the world, teaches us the sufficiency of His grace (2 Cor. 12:9), and helps transform us into the image of Christ. Trials teach patience, uproot our pride and bring us nearer to God.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17). Our afflictions can be grievous, but they are light compared to what we deserve, and compared to the glory to be revealed in us. Our afflictions are momentary because our time is short compared to eternity. When properly accepted, affliction works for us not against us, creating an eternal weight of glory. Therefore it should not be wasted by resisting. Paul wrote, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12). And the Lord said, “To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me in My throne” (Rev. 3:21). Overcoming suffering is a prerequisite for reigning with Christ. Because suffering is necessary to diminish self and develop agape love, godly character is developed in the school of suffering.
Christians with an eternal perspective respond to suffering by their courage, submission, praise and thanksgiving. On the other hand, believers with no eternal perspective react to it with self-pity, depression, frustration and resentment. When this occurs, they are defeated and character deteriorates.
It Changes Our View Of People
The last words of the risen Savior to His disciples were, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19). This is the Great Commission given to every Christian. With it the triumphant, living Lord sends forth His ambassadors to proclaim His gospel throughout all the world. Evangelism, communicating the message of salvation to unbelievers, is not only the responsibility of evangelists, preachers and teachers; every believer is called upon to share the good news of the salvation with a lost world (2 Tim. 4:5). We are to share with the unsaved what Christ has done in our lives and what He will do in theirs.
The risen Savior also said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me … to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). When the Spirit comes upon us we receive spiritual power. We are to bear witness of the death and resurrection of Christ, and His gracious work of salvation. We can tell the lost the way of salvation, but we can’t convict them of sin. The Spirit awakens those who are dead in sin, melts their stony hearts, opens their blind eyes and transforms them from death to life.
The Christian with an eternal perspective will make a list of the unbelievers in his life and pray for them. One obstacle to personal evangelism is the time it takes for God to bring an unbeliever to saving faith. It’s easy to get frustrated when we do not see immediate results. People do not automatically get saved the first time they hear the gospel. Our part is to faithfully sow the Word and leave it to God to give “the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6).
Only an eternal perspective will cause us to see that human beings are more important than things, and that every person embodies a spirit that lives forever. An eternal perspective will cause us to realize that it’s more important to spend time praying for the unsaved than using it for our pleasure. God’s Word says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30). It also says, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).
What We Must Do
It’s obvious that an eternal perspective will bless the believer. It will help us face courageously whatever God gives us, whether joy or sorrow. It will help us live the supernatural life in this age of grace. It will help us share the gospel.
By Maurice Bassali
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org