Building Our Personal Eternity
August 2, 2011
by Peter Amsterdam
Building Our Personal Eternity
Audio length: 44:47
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Someone mentioned to me recently that since they’ve devoted a lot of their life to focusing on spiritual things in their many years in missionary work for the Lord, now they feel discouraged because they are very behind when it comes to their present physical situation. They have little money, few possessions, no typical credentials, and are lacking in other things that people in society at large see as valuable. It’s natural to feel this way when you see your peers who have lived a different lifestyle, who haven’t spent years in service to God and others, who are well set up, have sufficient or perhaps abundant finances, plenty of material goods, and even savings. I’m sure many of us have had similar feelings of late. Many are presently in difficult and challenging situations financially and practically, and this exacerbates the feelings of being disadvantaged.
When I was thinking and praying about this, I concluded that it’s essentially a matter of long-term investing. People invest today with the hopes that their investment will increase as the years go by, so that eventually they will have a great deal more than they started with. When you look around at your peers in society, it’s obvious that many have invested in their education, family, house, car, lifestyle, stocks and bonds, etc., and they are generally benefiting from it. (Of course, with the recession, many who have invested for years, or even a lifetime, have seen the value of their investments drop drastically, or in some cases have lost them altogether.)
It’s natural to feel disadvantaged if you compare your situation with that of those who seem so much further along in their lives when it comes to material things. It’s also to be expected that they would be way ahead, since they have invested more of their lives in these things.
Throughout your life you have invested in different things, immaterial things. You’ve laid up treasures in heaven through investing in things of the Spirit. Your investment plan has been eternal, not temporal. Your service for God, sacrificing the material treasures of this world so you could bring salvation to others, the love and compassion you’ve shown others, putting time into your relationship with the Lord, and much more, are solid investments in your long-term future—very long-term, as in your eternal future.
We all know the age-old saying that when you die “you can’t take it with you.” That’s absolutely true when it comes to your material belongings. The corporeal life is left behind, and along with it everything corporeal. “That which is flesh is flesh; that which is spirit is spirit.” The material things of this life, which have such value today, have no value in the life to come.
It’s like the joke a friend told me some time back: A wealthy man who was dying was visited by an angel, and he asked the angel if he could take some of his riches to heaven with him. The angel responded that it wasn’t normal practice, but that he’d go and ask. Upon his return he said permission was given for the man to take one suitcase full of his riches. When the man died, he arrived at the gates of heaven with his suitcase, and the angel met him there. Curious as to what riches the man had brought with him, the angel asked if he could look inside the suitcase. The man said “of course” and opened the case, which was full of gold bars. The angel looked at the man and said, “You brought pavement?”
You haven’t laid up your treasure for yourself on earth; you’ve invested in the things of the Spirit. This makes you rich toward God.
I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.
We know that we can’t bring our material wealth with us into the next life. But we do send treasures ahead of us. In a sense, we take our spiritual wealth with us. A life lived in accordance with God’s Word makes a difference in the life to come. There are some things we can take with us and that have great value on the other side.
It’s important to keep this in mind if you find yourself comparing with those who today seem much better off than you materially. It’s wise to remember that you have been investing heavily in heaven. You have wealth there, and you have it because you have laid up treasure through the way you have lived your life. And you will continue to do so, no matter what your present or future circumstances, as long as you continue to invest in heavenly treasures.
What we do in this earthly life—the fruit of our relationship with the Lord, our discipleship, our following God’s Word, our service to Him and others, our loving actions—is all investing in eternity, and it makes a difference in the afterlife. And one’s lack of such investments factors in as well. The life we lead, the decisions we make, the good that we do, the love we give, all of it factors into our eternal future.
I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
While as Christians we are each saved and have eternal life, we will give account for our life, for whether or how we followed God and His Word, and will receive reward according to what we have done or not done in our earthly life.
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
So no matter what our present circumstances, it’s important not to lose sight of laying up treasure in heaven. It can be a struggle to maintain that focus, especially if you are behind in some ways and feel that for a while you need to put more focus on the physical and practical parts of your life than you have in the past, to balance things out. However, it’s good to remember that as you invest in the things of the Spirit you are investing in your long-term future, just as concretely as when someone is investing in material investments. The more you lay up heavenly treasures through the life you lead, the greater your reward.
The Bible teaches that there are different degrees of rewards for those who are saved. There are those who are great in heaven and who receive great rewards; there are also those who are referred to as “the least” in heaven. There is mention of rewards being great for those who are persecuted, those who love their enemies, those who do good. There is mention of a prophet’s reward and of a righteous person’s reward. These verses indicate that there are differences in rewards, with some being greater and some lesser.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great.
The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.
Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus’ parable of the minas (pounds) in Luke 19 shows, among other things, that there are differences in rewards based on what we do or don’t do. For brevity I am only quoting part of it.
A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, “Do business till I come.” And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
Then came the first, saying, “Master, your mina has earned ten minas.” And he said to him, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” And the second came, saying, “Master, your mina has earned five minas.” Likewise he said to him, “You also be over five cities.”
Then another came, saying, “Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.” And he said to him, “Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?”
And he said to those who stood by, “Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
The following passage speaks to the importance of how we build our lives on the foundation, Jesus, and how this affects our future rewards.
If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Though we don’t “take it with us” in the form of material goods, we do in the fruits of our spiritual lives. Those fruits being the result of applying God’s Word in our daily living, of being led by the Holy Spirit, of living in love as Jesus did. The fruits of our spiritual walk with the Lord, our obedience to do what He has shown us, our witnessing, our love for others, our walking in the Spirit, our living Christian values, all impact our eternal future.
As Christians, we have been given the gift of eternal life through Jesus. God’s gift of salvation guarantees us eternal existence. We are eternal beings. And as we have just seen, what we do during our life on earth has a direct impact on the rewards which will be given us in our eternal existence. So how we live our faith today is very important, because it has a long-term effect, not just on this life, but on our eternal life as well.
Being mindful of this truth helps us in determining what is important in our lives. It helps when determining what our personal core values are, and in setting and upholding the ethics that we live by. It should be a guide for the decisions we make. It should be considered when we choose to act, or not act, in a certain manner. The Lord leads different people in different ways, and God’s will for one person’s life is likely different from His will for another; but in all cases, how we live in relation to God’s Word and His will for us, our relationship to Him as well as to others, the way we conduct ourselves, the good we do, the love we give, the life we lead, all play a part in our personal eternity.
By following God no matter what your circumstances; by letting the fruits of the Spirit take hold in your life through living with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, faith, goodness, and temperance; by loving God and loving others; by esteeming others better than yourself; by loving your neighbor as yourself; by abiding in the Lord and letting Him abide in you; by applying Jesus’ teachings in the daily situations of life, you are investing in your personal forever. You can “take it with you”—through the fruits of your faith applied throughout your life.
 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 (Matthew 6:19–21 ESV).
 John 3:6.
 Luke 12:19–21 ESV.
 Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:20 ESV).
 Revelation 14:13 NASB.
 Revelation 22:12 NIV.
 2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV.
 Matthew 5:11–12 ESV.
 Luke 6:35 ESV.
 Matthew 10:41 ESV.
 Matthew 5:19 NIV.
 A mina was the equivalent of 100 drachmae, which would have been about three month’s wages for a common laborer at the time.
 Luke 19:11–26: He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. 12 Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. 13 “So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ 14 “But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this manto reign over us.’ 15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 “Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’ 17 “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’ 18 “And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’ 19 “Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’ 20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. 21 ‘For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 “And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, youwicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ 24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give itto him who has ten minas.’ 25 (“But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) 26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.’” (NKJ).
 Luke 19:12, 13, 15–26 NKJV.
 1 Corinthians 3:12–15 NIV.