The Peril of Short-Term Thinking
Satan has done his homework. He knows how to confuse, distract, cloud, and hide the truth from people. Sad thing is, most people let him do it. Jesus confidently declared that we can know truth (John 8:32), but knowing God’s will takes effort on our part. Tragically, most men give very little thought to eternal things. Why is this the case?
Some don’t believe that now counts forever — Jesus said, “The word I have spoken, the same will judge you in the last day” (John 12:48). We will all give account of our deeds to God one day (Rom. 14:12). Unfortunately, many are so caught up with the “here and now” that they do not give thought to the eternal consequences of their actions. One of Satan’s great lies is to tell us that what we do today will not matter in 100 years, to say nothing of eternity. God’s word says that one righteous individual can have a profound impact on their culture and indeed in eternity (see the examples of Ruth and Esther).
Some believe that “good” and “bad” are on a relative scale — It is incredibly dangerous to go through life comparing ourselves to others (cf. 2 Cor. 10:12). Sadly, some men give little thought to eternity because they see themselves as “better people” than most. This is exactly the same kind of thinking that Jesus rebuked in the Pharisees: “except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no wise enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:20). The Pharisees’ problem was not that they were “bad” people, but rather that they put themselves on a scale and measured their righteousness by how “good” they were relative to others. They, in their own minds, became the measure of what is good! Jesus flatly told them that unless they accepted Him, they could not be truly righteous. We may well be good, moral people, and yet we must understand that eternity is a question of whether we have obeyed the will of God in our lives.
Some believe more in comfort than character — God earnestly desires for us to develop genuine Christian character (Matt. 5:3-12). Satan, on the other hand, wants us to be pragmatic — just do whatever works. One of his deceptions involves making us busy. When we, like Martha, are busy doing good things, it becomes exceptionally difficult to see what’s really important (Luke 10:38-42). Character takes time and effort to build. It’s often much easier to justify things (in our minds) that make us more comfortable than it is to do things that make us more like Jesus (Gal. 2:20). Make no mistake, however: God is infinitely more concerned with our character than with our comfort. Seeking comfort above the kingdom leads inevitably to compromise (Matt. 6:33). God wants us to be transformed (Rom. 12:2) and conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). As we truly put His kingdom first, He has promised to bless us abundantly.
Some do not believe He is coming back — Many are skeptical of the Lord’s return: “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Pet. 3:4). So we busy ourselves by tearing down barns to build bigger ones, and we say to our souls that we should seek comfort and be at ease because life is grand. At times it is so easy to believe that we have heaven on earth that we may forget where true citizenship lies (Phil. 3:20). Jesus is coming back one day (1 Thess. 4:16-18; Heb. 9:27-28). Are you prepared for eternity?
Jesus Christ rebuked short-term thinking when He said, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Too many people spend their lives thinking short-term. May our desire always be to live each day with a view to the reality that we will spend eternity somewhere! — JB