What Is an Eternal Mindset?
By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
Have you ever stopped to think about eternity? Growing up, I would think about eternal life, and after a while, there was a point where it stopped making sense to me. We can understand eternal life conceptually, but our minds cannot fully grasp eternity. For us, everything has a start and end date. While we may not understand eternity to its fullest, we must still have an eternal mindset. This means we must look at things not just as how they are but how they will be. A former pastor of mine used to ask, ten thousand years from now, where will you be? You are going to be in heaven enjoying God’s presence or in hell, eternally separated from him. Recognizing there is an eternal destination waiting for you is the foundation for developing an eternal mindset. When you view life through this lens, it will influence how you are currently living.
Here are three ways an eternal mindset influences your life:
There are three things an eternal mindset will help shape in your life. Your perspective, priorities, and purpose. Let’s consider each one.
1. An eternal mindset shapes your perspective.
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:13-14
If you don’t have an eternal mindset, then you can falsely believe this is all there is to life. When this happens, you can easily lose perspective on what is most important. How many people have you heard foolishly say, “I am going to a party to have the most amount of fun I can because life is short.” They even come up with slogans, “Life is short, play hard.” Life is short, but eternity is long. If you live without an eternal perspective, it will cause you to make bad choices and wrong decisions.
In Luke 12, Jesus tells the story of the rich fool. Here is how he led into this parable.
“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” – Luke 12:15
This parable is all about perspective in life. This man had all he wanted and plenty more. He did not have a financial care in this world, and he set out to take it easy and enjoy his life. He set his perspective on this life alone, and forgot about the one to come. In this parable, the very day the man felt his riches were enough to keep him for many years turned out to be his last day on earth. While he remembered his riches, he forgot about his relationship with the Lord. Jesus calls this type of man a fool. An eternal mindset forces you to see that everything in this life is temporary and not worth living for, because one day they will all pass away.
2. An eternal mindset sets your priorities.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-20
Stephen Covey, in “7 Habits of Highly Successful People,” mentioned the habit of beginning with the end in mind. I don’t know if he understood this when he wrote it, but that is an eternal mindset. The more you recognize there is an eternal destination waiting for you, the more you should prioritize what you do today.
When I think of an eternal mindset, I compare it to a person who is saving for retirement. These verses in Matthew 6 lead in this direction. Saving for retirement is simply sending money ahead, so when you get to retirement, you will have something to live on. If you send nothing ahead, you will have nothing when you get there. This is true of eternity as well. When you have an eternal mindset, you don’t just build for this life because it is fleeting and will pass away. You want to send something ahead so that when you get there you can enjoy the rewards of your efforts, which is why you store up treasures in heaven.
What are your top priorities? How do they measure considering time and eternity? Thinking in this fashion helps bring balance to your life, allowing you to take care of the responsibilities of today without losing sight of the realities of tomorrow. If all you focus is on now, then you will stand before the Lord empty-handed. That’s why you must focus on both. This does not mean you quit your secular job and go into full-time ministry. This means you seek God’s will for your life and pursue it with all your heart. When you have eternity in mind, then your most important priority is to complete the plan God has designed for your life.
3. An eternal mindset solidifies your purpose.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18
The other thing an eternal mindset can do for you is solidify your purpose, which means helping you focus on why you do the things you do. Let’s face it, life is tough. Jesus promised in this life we would have trouble. I call this the most overlooked promise in Scripture (John 16:33) When life gets difficult, you must remember why you are doing what you do.
- Why are you going through challenges, suffering, and persecution?
- Why are you facing the hardships that can come into this life because of your relationship with Christ?
- Why are you trying to live holy and be intent on doing God’s will?
You do it because there is an eternity waiting for you on the other side of it. Our hope is not just for this life. In fact, Paul said if we only have hope for this life we should be pitied above all men (1 Cor. 15:19). You have a living hope, that despite the sufferings of this life, one day God will wipe every tear from your eyes. On that day, the greatest pain you experienced in this life won’t even be a drop in the bucket when compared to the glory of God’s presence. If you don’t think this way, then the challenges of life will overwhelm you and can cause you to give up.
There is a song written by John P. Kee called “He’ll Welcome Me.” One line in that song says, “I’m living this life just to live again.” This is the essence of an eternal mindset. The striving, the labor, and all we sacrifice for the Lord are not just because we are living but because we know we will live again. Despite what happens in this life, don’t lose that focus. There is an eternity waiting for you. Encourage yourself with these words and don’t lose hope because one day you will say it was worth it all.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Anawat_s
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.