What Really Matters
I was confronted with a question at the beginning of this year that I found very difficult to answer. And the fact that it was difficult to answer has led me to continue wrestling with it for weeks.
The question was this:
“What single thing can you plan to do this year that will matter most in ten years? In eternity?” (from this Desiring God post)
I began reviewing my list of goals for 2020. I love setting goals and do so in many areas of my life (i.e. read a certain number of books, work out so many times per week, etc.). How many of them reflect things that will matter in eternity?
This led me to begin analyzing my life. My days, habits, routines, rhythms. How many of those will matter in eternity? Will my impressive “have-read” book list? Will my workouts? Will my clean house or my perfectly-followed budget?
You guys, this is not an easy thing to ponder, and it brings up some really uncomfortable truths. But the bottom line I think we should consider is this: what percentage of our resources (time, money, and energy) goes toward things that will matter in eternity? And what even are the things that will matter in eternity?
Let’s start with that first. The chief end of man, according to the familiar catechism question, is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” So, the things that matter in the end are those things that bring glory to God or cause me to enjoy him more. Also, Jesus himself said that the greatest commandment is to “...love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and the second is to “...love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-38) Jesus’ final words as he ascended back into heaven, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” should also guide our actions. (Matt. 28:19)
So how can I know that where I am spending my time, money, and energy will matter in eternity? Here are some criteria based on the above.
Does it glorify God?
This seems like a no-brainer, but it may actually include a lot more things than initially come to mind. All of our mundane tasks, the ones we write off as not counting for anything, can be done to the glory of God. Here’s the thing: in order for the things I do to glorify God and count for eternity, all of them must be fully submitted to the control and Lordship of Jesus Christ and done as unto him.
Does it make me grow in my love for God or my enjoyment of him?
Reading God’s word, prayer, enjoying his creation, fellowship with other believers, contentedly obeying and proving that the law of the Lord is good, all of these things can increase my love for and enjoyment of God.
Is it loving my neighbor?
Again, we can think beyond the most obvious expressions of loving our neighbors as we analyze our lives. Maybe I can love my neighbor by living simply and within my means so that I can sponsor a child in poverty, or give to a local Christian non-profit.
Is it part of my calling to go and make disciples?
How much of our time is actually being devoted to this task? Can those around us see that we live differently? Or does our life look pretty much like the next person, with the exception of church attendance on a Sunday morning?
So, what will I do this year that will matter for eternity? God may reveal something specific to you or me as we pray through this question, but for now I feel him pressing a broader truth into my heart. So I will borrow the words of Elisabeth Elliot and say this,
“This year, let us ask God to dissolve all our hopes into a single hope to know Christ and be found in him. May this be a year to desire a radically transformed, deeper, truer, knowing of Christ as our All-Sufficient One.”
All of the other things that I want my life to be about flow out of this. And I know without a doubt that this will matter in eternity.