1 Corinthians 3:10-15
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their 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 person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
We are tempted every day to have a temporal perspective rather than an eternal perspective, to live as if our current lives is all there is. Knowing how and in what way to invest our lives is a struggle for every follower of Christ. We must continually renew our minds so that we may live in the reality of God’s purpose for us and in the knowledge that we will either be rewarded for the stewardship of our lives or suffer loss on the Day of Judgment.
Our life on earth is but a tiny speck on the timeline of eternity. There is infinitely more disparity between a human lifespan and eternity than a drop of water and the ocean. In light of this reality, we ought to live for God’s eternal purposes, not our shortsighted temporal purposes.
David, knowing he was tempted to hope in the material treasures of this life, asked God to remind him of this reality, to remind him that our lives are extremely short. Our lives are so tiny that David uses words like “fleeting,” “nothing,” “breath,” and “phantom” to describe man’s life.
Eternity Past <--------------------------------------------------*-------------------> Eternity Future
The Bible encourages us to live with an eternal perspective. Look at other passages that remind us of the brevity of life and the infinitude of eternity:
- Job 14:1-6
- Psalm 89:46-51; 144:3-4
- Proverbs 31:30
- James 4:13-16
Many of Jesus’ parables remind us of keeping an eternal perspective, such as the parable of the rich man who stored up things for himself,2 the parable of the weeds,3 the parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl,4 the parable of the ten virgins,5 and the parable of the talents.6 In addition, the whole goal of the book of Revelation is to remind the believer that the life we see on earth is not reality. It warns of the deception of the evil one who tries to convince us that we should invest wholly in this life. Revelation also highlights the truth and glory of God’s plan and purpose. Revelation encourages the believer to be a faithful witness for Jesus until the end, to live a life that is eternally rewarded.
Throughout Scripture we see people who stop living for God and start living for temporal goals. In the very beginning, Eve wanted knowledge of good and evil for herself, believing Satan rather than trusting God and His plan. The story of the people of Israel is similar: they distrust God’s plan and eventually worship other gods. We see men in the Psalms cry out to God, fighting the temptation to place hope in temporal goals like accruing wealth and power.7
Likewise, examples abound in the New Testament. Jesus condemns the religious teachers for the earthly rewards that they seek.8 He contrasts this by describing the lifestyle of disciples who seek to please the Father alone and thus are promised eternal rewards. Paul also exhorts his readers to live not for the sensualities of this life, but to live as those who trust in God.9 As we have seen, this is not an uncommon struggle, but we must all persevere by renewing our mind in the eternal truth of Christ.
Paul Washer once preached, “These Olympians, how majestic they are, but only for a moment. They start training when they are four and five years old; they never do anything but train until they're twenty-two, they run a nine second race for a medal they hang up and that's it...Oh, this life is a vapor.”10
- Write down a few verses that remind you of the glory of God’s plans.
- Your life is an investment. What are you investing in?
- Are you asking God how you should spend your time, talents and treasures?
- What are some of your temporal temptations?
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
How does this study reinforce your belief in the gospel?
- Psalm 39:4-8
- Luke 12:13-21
- Matthew 13:24-30
- Matthew 13:44-46
- Matthew 25:1-13
- Matthew 25:14-30
- Psalm 73:1-3, 17-20
- Matthew 6:1-8
- Ephesians 4-5