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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

Do your current priorities and passions reveal an eternal or temporal perspective?

Philippians 3:17-21

But our citizenship is in heaven.

One of the phrases he uses to describe those who don’t live with an eternal perspective is “their god is their stomach.” That is a phrase that is about appetites and passions for the stuff of this world. They live for the stuff they can acquire and consume now. They act and behave and make decisions as though this life is all there is. They are shortsighted in their perspective, and this accurately describes how so many people live in our generation. Their entire focus is on temporal pleasures and material possessions. They spend all of their energy and time trying to figure out how they can get “more.” Unfortunately, this temptation was not reserved for first-century Christians. These are the kind of issues you and I face every day.

Paul goes on to say that they are people whose mind is set on earthly things. They are preoccupied with the temporal things of this world. They don’t think about Heaven. The reality of eternity does not shape their decisions. Their treasure and what they really value is here on this earth. They are driven by the temporal rather than the eternal.

The truth is, it is very easy for us to get swept along in the flow of the culture. Everything around us puts the spotlight on temporal things like success, wealth, and looks. The gravitational pull of our culture is toward earthly things.

The word “but” in verse 20 is the pivot point for this passage. Paul is saying the world may live that way “but” we live differently. And we live differently because our citizenship is in Heaven. We are to have an eternal mindset. Our decisions and behaviors and thoughts should give testimony to the fact that we are “heavenly minded.”

If we sat down together and reviewed each other’s financials and looked over our calendars and could chart our thoughts over the last week, would there be any evidence that we are focused on eternal things?

Are you living today as though everything we have talked about in this book is true? If not, what would need to change? Please don’t gloss over that last question. Sit quietly and honestly with those words for a few moments. Allow the Holy Spirit some space to speak to you. What would REALLY need to change for you to live with an eternal perspective?

My suspicion is that you won’t get there with incremental change. You won’t tweak things in your life and end up with a life focused on eternity. If your life is anything like mine, it might require you to make a radical shift. Whenever I’ve really stopped and contemplated Heaven and what really matters, it’s always led to some midcourse changes. Months later, I realize that I’ve been pulled again back into the stream of “this world’s” values and need to adjust again. I don’t think this process will ever end. We are in a war and a battle for our souls and those we love. It doesn’t mean we are bad people—it does mean we look through the lens of eternity and do whatever is necessary.

When I was a kid, there used to be a ride at the state fair that illustrates my point. You would walk into this big metal cylinder and stand against the wall. Then they would start spinning the cylinder, and when it got going fast enough, they would drop the floor out from under you. But the centrifugal force kept you pinned against the wall.

The same is true of our culture. The Bible calls it the “world’s system” and it warns us that friendship with “the world,” even as believers, makes us at odds with God (James 4:4–6). The centrifugal force of a culture focused on temporal things is so strong that if you don’t do something radical, you will just keep spinning around like everybody else.

So, let me ask you, gently, one more time: What would have to change in your everyday life for you to live from a more eternal perspective? A life that reflected you really take Heaven seriously?

The final question I’d like you to ponder has to do with the eternal destination of others. The Scripture is clear and absolute about the magnificent gift that awaits those who have received God’s gracious and free offer through Christ. But the Bible is equally clear about the consequences of rejecting that offer.

It’s very unpopular in our day to mention, let alone discuss, the reality of hell. Yet Jesus speaks about it often and with a view to it being as REAL and eternal as Heaven.

Chip Ingram and Lance Witt, The Real Heaven: What the Bible Actually Says (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2016).

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