We sometimes hear people say, “We can be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.” But in contrast, I think Philippians 3:18-21 (above) says the opposite: “We can be so earthly minded that we are of no heavenly good.” The Lord seems to want us to remember that here on earth Christians are square pegs in round holes. We just don’t fit.
The people in the Bible whom God used had their eyes on eternal rewards rather than on the rewards that this world provides. Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker was God (Heb. 11:10). He lived in tents, but never drove his tent pegs too deep.
The heroes of the faith in the early part of Hebrews 11 were strangers and pilgrims on this earth as well. These people were Hebrews who had been given earthly promises and an earthly land. Yet the faithful among them had their eyes on a heavenly city.
Christians are “in the world” but they are “not of the world” (Jn. 17:11-14). We are to be confident that the Lord is coming back for us (Jn. 14:3). This is our “blessed hope” (Ti. 2:13), and it is the hope that purifies us (1 Jn. 3:3). We are to live as though our bags are packed and our desire is to make the trip to our real home.
We also are citizens on this earth and have responsibilities because we live in “the here and now.” But those responsibilities are to be carried out with our eye on that which is eternal, spiritual, and heavenly. When we preach the gospel, we need to mention eternal life as well as eternal condemnation or de?struction. We need to preach that Jesus Christ, that Man now in heaven, is the Son of God who came to die for our sins on this earth. We need to tell people that this life is merely a dress rehearsal for eternity.
Unbelievers, those who have rejected the claims of Christ, are generally earthly minded. They are enemies of the cross of Christ, motivated by gluttony, and they glory in things that we should find shameful (Phil. 3:18-19). In Revelation they are often called “those that dwell on the earth” (Rev. 3:10; 6:10; 11:10).
As others watch us, do they see us occupied with eternity, or do they see us occupied with the here and now? Do our congregations deal with eternity, or are all their programs associated with the needs of the day?
I realize that immediate needs must be met in order to preach the gospel to the needy. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help the hurting and send the sick to doctors. And we should do these things for the needy whether we can speak to them about Christ and eternity or not.
But if we are to have any credibility with those to whom we minister, shouldn’t our motive be heavenly blessings instead of merely earthly ones? Shouldn’t others see that we really are a people whose citizenship is in heaven?
It’s easy to get so involved with what God has given us on earth that we forget about the reality of eternity in heaven. We are not really ready to live until we are really ready to die. And we’re not ready to die until we’ve prepared for eternity.
By Bruce Collins
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org