An ancient proverb encourages me in times of uncertainty and confusion: “Those who live well for their own time have lived well for all times.” This bit of sophistry may appear to be a vacuous comment echoed by the likes of Dale Carnegie and others in the self-help movement, and I admit there is some truth in that assertion. Yet, I also think such a statement can remind us of the eternal nature of who we are and what we do for Christ.
The apostle Paul had the eternal view of life in his ministry, and this perspective was revealed in various passages where he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write to early Christians. One reference comes to mind often as I seek daily to demonstrate the eternal perspective of living for Christ. In Philippians, Paul famously declared, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Like the apostle of old, we have the privilege and responsibility of living for Christ and serving Him while we are in this earthly life. Upon death, we gain eternity with Christ. Being reminded of that timeless truth each day can make a difference in how we view our temporal problems.
Devotional writer Sara Young made an eternal perspective-type statement, which caught my attention recently. She said, “Gaze upon Christ, glance at your problems.” This brief affirmation reminds us that our focus is to be on Christ Himself and not the temporal problems of our day. This is far easier said than done, I know. We are seemingly wired to obsess over our daily and regular problems. To focus on Christ does place these issues into the higher and holier perspective. In the language of Paul, “We set our minds on heavenly things, not earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
Years ago, I became acquainted with the late Harry Piland, who served so faithfully as the leader of Sunday School ministries at the former Sunday School Board (now LifeWay). Speaking to the chapel service there in Nashville, Harry made a simple but eternally profound statement, “It isn’t a calamity to die with your dreams unfulfilled. It is a calamity to have no dreams at all.”
Not too long after this chapel message, Harry went on to be with the Lord. His life was an inspiration to me and to so many others. I believe he personified the ancient proverb, “Those who live well for their own time have lived well for all times.”
Better yet, Harry was one who knew that, for him, to live this life was for the glory of Christ and eternity itself, and to die was to be with Christ for eternity. May that be our legacy as well.