Before you read any further, stop for a minute and think about what your highest
hopes and desires are. Now read what the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul regarding
our “hopes.” “If only for this life we have hope in Christ,
we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) Why is this
so? I don’t think there is a better answer to that question than Solomon’s
sad commentary on life “under the sun” in the book of Ecclesiastes.
The phrase “under the sun” basically means living our lives apart
from God’s perspective, purposes, power and eternal rewards and putting
our hopes in the things of the world to satisfy us. King Solomon, who had it
all, wealth, power, success, sex, pleasures and human wisdom, said “Meaningless!
Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless…under the
sun.” (See Ecclesiastes chapters 1- 3:14) The reason this is true is that
“God has set eternity in our hearts” (3:11-14) and temporal, material
things will not satisfy us. Only when we receive God’s good gifts with
a grateful heart (i.e., versus something I earn and deserve, v.13) and then
steward them for the good of others (“to do good while we live”
v.12) can we find true “satisfaction” (v.13). For then our life
and labor has eternal value (“everything God does will endure forever”
v.14). This is Paul’s point at the end of chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians
as he speaks about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and thus our resurrection
and eternal hope and concludes by saying : “Always give yourself fully
to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain”–
i.e., is not meaningless but has eternal value. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
How do we make this radical change in perspective to where God and His eternal
purposes and blessings become the center and focus of our life and hopes rather
than the things of this world? How do learn to live by faith and not by sight?
Reading and meditating on God’s living and eternal word (Romans 12:2)
and following the example of others who lived by faith is the message in the
book of Hebrews. In chapter eleven the writer lists the great men and women
of faith as examples for us to follow. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Rahab,
David, and many more are people who faithfully obeyed the Lord. Some of them
experienced temporal victories and blessings and others suffered greatly and
were even martyred. Yet the writer says: “These were all commended for
their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” (i.e.,
the full blessing and reward for faithful obedience only comes in heaven; 11:39;
also see 11:13-16) Then the writer says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of our faith , who for the joy set before Him, endured
the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne
of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you
will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3) Jesus Christ is the
Example, the Model and even the Means of grace to enable us to live by faith
for God’s highest glory and mankind’s highest good. He lived every
minute of His human life with God’s eternal will and purposes as His vision
and motivation. “For the joy set before Him” he endured the greatest
suffering any human has ever experienced on this side of heaven – the
wrath of God poured out on Him as He bore the sins of all humanity. What was
that “joy set before Him” that heavenly vision that inspired Him
to bear the sin and shame and humiliation and suffering of the cross? It was
to satisfy the justice of God by taking the wrath due us for ignoring God, for
refusing to obey Him and for some who even blaspheme God. To provide a way of
salvation for us so we could receive God’s forgiveness and love and be
set free from the bondage of sin and death and the power of Satan. And to bring
to an end the history of a fallen human race full of strife and war and misery
and death and usher in a new order – a new heaven and a new earth where
the deepest longings and hopes of our hearts will be realized for all eternity
as we dwell with God Himself and the redeemed in Paradise Regained.
In order to share this eternal vision with Jesus we must regularly meditate
on Him, on heaven and on God’s eternal Word to renew our minds and transform
our hearts and passion to follow Jesus in living by faith. Because of space
I will simply list a few Scripture verses and make some brief comments on each
to help us in this process of gaining an eternal perspective.
(1) Revelation 21:1-5; Meditate on the glory of heaven.
(2) Matthew 25:21; Long to hear Jesus say “well done” more than
vain glory and the applause of man.
(3) Romans 8:29 and Hebrews 12:3; Pray in agreement with God’s will to
conform you to the likeness of Jesus.
(4) Ephesians 1:17-19; Pray for a greater revelation of a personal knowledge
of God and His unique call on your life and His power to carry it out.
(5) Ephesians 3:16-19; Pray for revelation to grasp how much Christ loves you
and to be filled to overflowing with His love for others.
(6) Romans 12:1-2; Offer your life as a living sacrifice for God’s pleasure
and glory believing by faith that His will and plan for your life is perfect
and thus will bring you the greatest pleasure.
(7) 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Convert sufferings and trials into eternal glory
(Christ-like character) by fixing your eyes on the invisible and eternal Kingdom
of God rather than focusing on the light (compared to Christ’s suffering)
momentary (compared to eternal rewards and blessings) afflictions.
I suggest that you type up these Scriptures and read and meditate on them regularly
to experience God’s transforming power to change your perspective from
this brief, fleeting, meaningless life “under the sun” to a life
that is lived “under the Son” where our labor is not in vain but
will benefit and bless us for all eternity.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what
is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called
me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 13-14)
Running the race,
Len and Kristen