We sometimes speak of a certain kind of person as not being able to see beyond the end of his nose. Ordinarily, this statement refers to one who is self-centered and selfish in all his actions. He appears to be incapable of, or at least unwilling, to consider anyone else’s needs or desires. His only concerns are his own needs. In the world in which we now live, however, this statement applies in a somewhat different, albeit far more important sense.
All around us are people whose lives indicate that their only focus is on the here and now. They live paycheck to paycheck, with no concept of preparing for the future. They seem to live day to day, with no plan, and simply react to what may happen each day. They do not have any long-term goals; they have no idea how they will survive when they can no longer work, and they seem for the most part to be unconcerned about it. They are like hamsters on a wheel, and may not even be aware of it, and even if they are aware, they have no idea what to do about it.
Such a viewpoint in the physical affairs of life is at the very least unwise, and may even be catastrophic in the long run. This same view in spiritual matters is not only unwise it is assuredly catastrophic when one considers the reality of eternity. All of us will reach eternity one day, whether we have a view toward it or not, and we must make plans for that eventuality, lest we suffer the consequences.
Paul the apostle was a man who had a view toward eternity. Everything he did as a Christian and as an apostle of Jesus Christ was predicated upon the understanding that one day he would stand before the judge of mankind to give an account (cf. Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10). When he made his defense before the Roman governor, Felix, he said, “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men” (Acts 24:14-16).
Paul understood that life on earth is merely preparatory for life in eternity. This fact has been ordained by God the Father, who calls on all men everywhere to repent because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world by His Son (Acts 17:30, 31). For this reason, Paul did nothing that would jeopardize his standing before God, or negatively affect his destiny when that time came. It is a sound message that each of us needs to take to heart.
Living with a view toward eternity affects virtually every decision one makes, both in a positive sense and in a negative sense. If one has a view toward eternity, he will devote himself to God’s word so he knows exactly what God requires of him in order to enter heaven. With eternity in mind, one will choose to obey the gospel and live faithfully until death. With thought for eternity, one will lead his family in a godly manner, directing them along the path he himself is walking. With eternity in view, one will reject the siren’s call to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:25), in favor of godliness that is profitable both here on earth and also in eternity (1 Tim. 4:8). While many “live for today,” let us be people who live with a view toward eternity.