Begin with the Eternity in Mind
Read Revelation 22:6-7 (ESV)
And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Thinking practically, how can we be one of the blessed ones “who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book”?
The self-help expert Stephen Covey wrote a book in 1989 called “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The book became widely successful, sold millions and millions of copies, and posters of his “habits” are plastered around workplaces and classrooms seeking to motivate individuals to reach their full potential. These habits are to the secular self-help genre what the book of Proverbs is to the Bible—general life principles that are admittedly mostly common sense and yet, we all need reminders on how to live wisely.
Covey’s second effective habit was “Begin with the End in Mind.” He was encouraging people to set a goal and then think about the necessary steps to achieve it. In other words, think about where you want to go first. Then, figure out how to get there. This can apply to us as Christians as well. But because the end that we have in mind is eternity with Jesus, we can change it to “Begin with eternity in mind.”
In today’s passage of Revelation, John is beginning to write the conclusion to this fantastic vision he received from the Lord. The angel that had been taking him on the tour of the end times assures John that everything he has seen can be trusted because they are the words of the One who is called “Faithful and True” (Rev. 3:14 and 19:11). God sent the angel with a purpose—to show His followers what is coming. Then, Jesus Himself begins to speak, inspiring a sense of urgency. “Behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
To paraphrase, Jesus is saying, “Look, my angel showed you what is in store. This is all going to happen soon, this is what the end will be like, so plan accordingly and start living from this truth. Right now!”
If we begin with the end in mind, the end being eternity, we know from this vision that the end is going to be full of trials and tribulations for a limited time only. We know that sin, death, and Satan will be overcome forever. We know that Jesus is returning to judge everyone according to their deeds. We know that the wicked who reject Jesus will be eternally punished. But those who belong to Jesus will live forever with Him in Paradise. We know that the beauty and splendor of Heaven is more than we can fathom. And there, we will experience His presence always without the presence of death and darkness. There will be no more tears but instead, a world of eternal joy and light.
The Bible has a lot to say about how to live with an eternal, kingdom perspective.
Paul said, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). He also charged us to “do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-18).
In John 6:27, 29, Jesus said, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you...This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” He also said, “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39).
Friends, Scripture repeatedly reminds us that this world is passing away so we shouldn’t prioritize the things of this world (1 Corinthians 7:31, 1 John 2:15-17). After all, what good is it to gain the whole world but lose our souls (Luke 9:25). Instead, we should begin to live with eternity in mind. Eternity with Jesus is the goal. He is our reward and our prize. Let’s live out that truth today and every day.
Lord, You have shown me what is coming up ahead. You have warned me, encouraged me, and comforted me with this truth. I know what to expect. In light of this, help me change the way I live. Change my perspective and my priorities so that I begin to live each day with eternity in mind. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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