We spend so much of our time trying to make a name for ourselves. We toil to make ends meet and then we spend our money on things to help us get through the aches and pains of the work week. We fill our schedules so much so that we forget to breathe deep breaths. Instead, our lives become as shallow as our breathing, going only deep enough to survive. We read a scripture here or a verse there. We donate a little money at the Holidays. We sit in Church on Sunday or post that inspirational quote of encouragement online. We save up our money to buy things we want or rack up credit card debt for things we cannot afford. Perhaps we set some aside for retirement or a big purchase down the road as many worry about how they will make ends meet with the exceedingly higher cost of living. While it is not foolish to prepare and steadily plan for our futures it is not the way Christians are called to live their lives. To clarify, it is not the way of life for a Christian to be fully consumed by the things of the world, but rather to be delightfully devoted to the things of God. We are sincerely called to live our lives sanctified, holy, and set apart from the world. Lovingly, I believe we should be the most lovely, humble, compassionate, generous, and all-around peculiarly different from anyone else on the planet.
Proverbs 21:5 states, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” At first glance we immediately go to the flesh and think this has to do with our personal goals. Yet are we sure we understand what this piece of wisdom is telling us? Is it talking about earthly plans or is it talking about something entirely different? When Jesus began his ministry, so much of what he spoke was in the form of parables. It was not to be taken at face value, but to be interpreted by the Holy Spirit living within us- in wisdom and discernment. Perhaps, what it is referring to is the steady Christian who diligently and intimately seeks the things of God, of Jesus, of the Holy Spirit. Together they plan for a future eternally in heaven. So, what are these things a Christian must plan for on earth to prepare for heaven, you might ask? The plans of the diligent Christian look to serve with humility, to be persecuted for his namesake, to love their enemies, to fast with joy, to tithe willingly, and to fill up their oil lamps daily just as the ten virgins prepare for the coming of their bridegroom in Matthew 25.
Jesus preached the famous Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. In Matthew 5:3 it states, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs, is the kingdom of heaven.” What does it mean to be poor in spirit? It means one knows the lack in their spirit apart from God. They know that they have a personal need to know and to have God in their spirits and their lives at all times. The simple knowing of one's bareness without him reaps a large eternal reward too. One who knows that they cannot do without God will inherit the kingdom of God. That is a momentous reward. Soon after we are reminded in Matthew 6:19-24, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Furthermore, this hits home where our eyes must gaze day in and day out. If you spend your time looking at things to buy, at people, television shows, and magazines, and chase after being known on social media then therein lies your heart. You cannot know and love God because you are focused on the false gods of this earth. The things you say, the things you do, the things you listen to, the things you watch, and the things that you think all reveal the truth of your heart. What you treasure on earth reveals the true nature of your being and shows the world and more importantly, shows Christ if you are walking intimately with Him in his light or if you are walking intimately with the things of the world in the darkness. While some may say they walk with the Lord they may not truly be living and planning for life in heaven because they are so focused on fulfilling their lives on this earth. I see so often that people plan their lives as though they are going to live on earth forever when they should be diligently planning for their life beyond their lifetime on earth. While it is good to take care of yourself and those around you, it can consume you, and this is not the intent of why God created us.
There are many things we as Christians can do to truly prepare ourselves for a life of eternity in heaven with Christ. Rather than overwhelming yourself look at a few of these areas and see if you can start to make some changes in your life. The irony of giving up the things we think we need is that God often blesses us bigger than we can imagine with what little we currently have on earth.
· Focus on things that are lovely, pure, and holy.
· Listen to music or watch movies without swearing or derogatory language.
· Read your scripture and reflect.
· Call your family, friends, and neighbors to check in on them.
· Spend time listening intently to what the will of God is for your life. Let Him fully inhabit you and allow him to speak the truth of what he wants you to do with your time.
· Learn to give to others without keeping tabs. Forget as soon as you give to avoid boasting about all you do.
· Pray and fast in private with joy and Thanksgiving.
· Forgive those that hurt you and love your enemies.
· Speak kindly of others rather than gossip.
· Endure insults and persecutions to live righteously and purely for God and be unoffended by what people say or do.
· Learn to enjoy alone time with Christ.
Intimacy is key to renewing the mind and spirit.
Truly treasure Jesus more than anyone and anything and know apart from Him your life is merely dust. The renewal of the mind and seeking Him intimately allows His light to shine through us as heaven gloriously awaits our arrival to receive our true inheritance.
May this post today remind us of how blessed we are to have Christ in our lives and to not take for granted what little time we each have to prepare for the coming of Christ. We each may have a different time of departure to heaven, but we all have the same guidance and support to prepare our minds, hearts, and spirits. Truly, the greatest treasure hunt we could ever go on in our lives is the one where we find Jesus in every space and place between here and heaven. Let the planning adventure begin. Amen!