Pastor Terry Goerz,
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Most everyone wants to prepare for that portion of our life where we “rest from our labours” We want to ensure a comfortable livelihood when we retire. However for Christians we look forward to “resting from our labours” in heaven with Christ and then later with the Triune God in the New Heaven and New Earth. We all have an eternal existence. If you think of yourself as just another animal whose existence ends with death your focus in life could be described as ‘eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’. If you see yourself as a spiritual being with an eternal existence your focus in life should be very different”. So if we live our lives here on earth knowing that our life on earth is just a fleeting shadow or a mist that vanishes compared with eternity, our focus should be on eternity. Well we are just a fleeting shadow or a mist that vanishes. In scripture we are told:
Psalm 144: 4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.
James 4: 14b What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
If we were to dwell on that concept and what it means to us on a daily basis our priorities would be much different. So dwell on that. … What are you doing personally in your life to prepare for an eternal existence? What is important in securing a comfortable life there?
Well first sanctifying our lives while here on earth is important for eternity. Sanctification produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. Does that fruit of the Sprit die with our bodies at death? No! We are spiritual beings and our sinful nature dies at death, but the fruit of the spirit is part of our spiritual being that lives on for eternity!
There is that song about “you never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul”. We say you take none of all you have gained here on earth when you leave this earth. Well that is not entirely true. By cooperating with God in sanctifying our lives while here on earth we are actually planning for eternity. Sanctification produces that fruit of the Spirit that goes with us to heaven as an integral part of our spiritual self. We cooperate with God in our sanctification by reading and studying our bibles, by participating in Holy Communion, by confessing our sin and having them absolved in the weekly church service.
Then the Fruit of the Sprit is not the only “riches” we can plan for for our life in eternity. Jesus tells us that it is possible for us to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven.
Matthew 6: 19 – 20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
So we can store up treasures for eternal life. How do we do that? Jesus told the rich young man who came to him and asked what good thing he had to do to earn eternal life how he could save up for eternal life. Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor, then he would have treasures in heaven. Paul also instructs Timothy to teach much the same thing.
1 Timothy 6: 18, 19 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
So we should be rich in good deeds and be generous and willing to share in order to store up treasures for eternity. That may seem to be a “foreign concept” for Christians who have it drilled in to them that “we are saved by grace through faith, not by works lest anyone boast”. Good works cannot get us into heaven, but once we are saved good works produce riches for eternal life.
We are spiritual beings with an eternal existence. Our life here on earth is only a moment compared with eternity. So we should plan for eternity the same way we plan for retirement. Live your life from an eternal perspective and you will “lay up treasure for yourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age” while running the race called Christianity and you will bring with you the fruit of the spirit that was produced as you co-operated with God in your sanctification. As Paul tells us:
Colossians 3: 1, 2 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.