A number of years ago Stephen Covey published a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It quickly became a best seller. Habit # 2 says this: Begin with the end in mind. I suspect that he got this idea from the Apostle Paul. Throughout his letters Paul is consciously aware of that day when he will be with Christ. He seems to always have the end in mind. Nowhere is this more apparent than in this passage.
Why is this so important from Paul’s perspective? Here are a few observations as I ponder this passage…
Keeping the end in mind fuels Paul with determination to live courageously in the present (v.20) – Paul does not want to come face to face with God and feel ashamed of the way that the lived his life. This future encounter gives him the courage to make hard choices now. He chooses not to indulge in sinful behaviors because he knows that one day he will have to give an account for his actions.
Keeping the end in mind excites him about the future (v.21) – Paul is not scared to die. He anticipates death as a great reward and knows that it will be far better than anything that he can experience in this life. He is excited about spending eternity in the presence of God.
Keeping the end in mind keeps him from wasting his life (v.22-26) – He is concerned that his time here on earth be “fruitful labor.” He doesn’t want to get to the end of his life and feel like he wasted the time that God gave him. Here are a few quotes from John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life that will make you think:
“Desire that your life count for something great! Long for your life to have eternal significance. Want this! Don’t coast through life without a passion.”
“America is the first culture in jeopardy of amusing itself to death.”
“You get one pass at life. That’s all. Only one. And the lasting measure of that life is Jesus Christ.”
“The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure he is.”
“Why don’t people ask us about our hope? The answer is probably that we look as if we hope in the same things they do. Our lives don’t look like they are on the Calvary road, stripped down for sacrificial love, serving others with the sweet assurance that we don’t need to be rewarded in this life.”
There was a time when it was said about believers that they were “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.” The pendulum has swung too far. Now we are too earthly minded to be any good for the kingdom of God. It will do us well to ponder the end of our lives and what it will be like to be with Jesus – and then ask that He would use us “in the mean time” to gospel couriers.