Living with eternity in mind is the wisest way to live. An eternal perspective keeps us from chasing empty dreams and material gratification. It keeps us from wasting our years pursuing temporal things that we can’t take with us when we die. We gain an eternal perspective when we think of our lives as a 1000-foot rope with a black tip on one end: the rope symbolizes our existence; the black tip is our life on earth. We tend to focus all our passion and energy on the black tip while giving little thought to the rest of the rope.
There are several ways to develop and maintain an eternal perspective on life:
1. Make certain you have been born again (John 3:3). Eternity awaits all of us, but the only way to ensure that we spend eternity in heaven with God is to be born again. That new birth results in a renewed spirit and a new desire to please God. When we accept by faith the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on our behalf, the Holy Spirit moves into our spirits and births us into God’s forever family (Romans 8:15–17). It’s at that point that we begin to gain an eternal perspective.
2. Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31; Ephesians 5:18). We receive the Holy Spirit as a gift the moment we are saved (Acts 2:38), and He continues to work in our lives. However, the degree to which we submit ourselves to His transforming work is the degree to which we can live with an eternal perspective. When we are “filled” with the Spirit, we are totally yielded to Him. He has control of us. Galatians 5:16 says that, if we walk by the Spirit, we will not gratify the lusts of our flesh. Sinful self-gratification, focused on the things of this world, cannot coexist with an eternal perspective. The solution for self-centeredness is to surrender to the Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20).
3. Store up treasure in heaven. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21). The treasures we store for eternity are the things done for Christ on earth. Even offering a cup of cold water to a servant of the Lord is cause for reward (Matthew 10:42). An eternal perspective is one that has shifted from earthly concerns to heavenly ones and invests time, energy, and resources in God’s kingdom.
4. Spend time with God and His Word (Psalm 119:11). We would not expect our cars to go a thousand miles on a single tank of gas. Yet, we think a quick prayer or a tweeted Bible verse is sufficient to sustain an eternal perspective for weeks or months. We need continual refilling of truth. Romans 12:1–2 calls it the “renewing” of the mind. Spending time in the presence of God invites Him to reveal areas of our lives that are not surrendered to Him. We acknowledge and confess those and then replace the lies we’ve believed with truths from His Word. This continual “washing” of the Word (Ephesians 5:26) keeps our priorities in agreement with God’s and helps maintain an eternal perspective.
5. Stay conscious of the fact that this world is not all there is. It is easy to lose ourselves in daily cares and desires. But those who live with an eternal perspective are equally aware that every day counts down toward our final journey. Second Corinthians 4:17–18 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” We must intentionally redirect our thoughts toward that which is eternal, judging the value of decisions based on their eternal significance. Colossians 3:1–3 says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
God has commanded that we live with an eternal perspective. If holding an eternal perspective came naturally, He would not need to command it. So we choose to continually set our minds on things above. As we develop a habit of setting our minds on eternal things, we begin to handle things differently from those with earth-bound perspectives. As the eternal mindset becomes part of us, other people notice and one day may ask, “How can I, too, gain an eternal perspective on life?”