Updated: Aug 17, 2022
Have you ever thought something was more important than it actually was? I remember when the New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII to end their perfect season. I was an eight-year-old die-hard Patriots fan and I was beside myself after that game. Tears were running down my face, I was yelling at the top of my lungs, and I even punctured a hole in my family’s basement wall by hurling a water bottle as hard as I could against it. My eight-year-old self would say that loss was a big, big deal. My twenty-three-year-old self would say that a football game doesn’t carry much merit in light of eternity. The moral of the story is that in life it’s easy to make the little things into big things and to miss out on what really matters as we walk with Jesus through the Christian life. In this blog, we’ll unpack the four things that you can take with you from this life into eternity and how to focus on those things over the temporal things of this world.
As Christians, we all believe in an eternal existence beyond this life that far outweighs all of our light and momentary troubles (2 Corinthians 4:17). However, I can even admit that in my life I rarely consider what that eternal existence might be like or how I might start preparing for it. It’s almost like knowing that you have a vacation planned to the Bahamas, but never actually booking a hotel room, scoping out the local restaurants, scheduling any excursions, or buying a flight ticket. We cognitively know that eternal life with God in the new world is coming, but we miss the boat on actually preparing for it. So, how do we prepare for eternity? It starts with valuing what God values and treasuring what God treasures. In Matthew 6:20 Jesus says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” I’ve heard that verse countless times, and I always nod my head in agreement, but rarely understand what the heck it actually means. What are treasures in heaven? How do I store something when I don’t know what I’m supposed to store?
In one of my favorite sermons given by Pastor Judah Smith, titled It Doesn't Really Matter, he outlines the four things that the Scriptures say we can “store up” or take with us into eternity. The first thing that we can take with us is our soul. Jesus says in Matthew 16:26, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Jesus makes this statement to underscore the importance of your soul because it is eternal. The personality type that you have, the emotions that you carry, and your sense of humor, are all a part of your soul. This is why the Psalmist says, “Why are you downcast, O my soul…?” Your soul is who you are, and your soul will find an eternal dwelling place, either in heaven or in hell. Jesus is commanding us to invest in our soul by investing in Him. We can invest in this world, with all of its temporal pleasures and riches, and lose our eternal soul. Or we can invest in our relationship with Christ, and gain our eternal soul. What really matters? Your soul and your relationship with God really, really matters.
The second thing you can take with you into eternity is your relationships with other believers. In the sport industry, it is easy to miss out on opportunities to invest in the relationships in your life because of the demanding schedules and workloads that come with careers in sports. However, a career in the sport industry does not carry over into eternity. Relationships do. In Luke 16:9 Jesus says, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Another translation says, “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.” Jesus is literally saying that we should use worldly wealth to gain friends. Note that Jesus did not say to use worldly wealth to gain cars, clothes, status, or real estate. Jesus knows that relationships have exceedingly more value than worldly possessions because creating and investing in relationships is something that you will carry on into eternity. What really matters? Your relationships with other believers matter!
The third thing that you will take with you into eternity is your memories. Yes, your memories! How many times have you chosen to miss out on a memory because of work? Or because you were sending a text? Or because you wanted to make an extra buck? Sometimes we can get so fixated on the temporal, fleeting things of this world that we miss out on memories. The story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 is biblical evidence that we carry our memories with us into the next life. The rich man, who is in hell (v. 23), remembers the comfort that he experienced in his earthly life (v. 25) and he also remembers his family (v. 27-28). In our eternal dwelling with Christ in heaven and in the new age, we will be able to carry our memories from this life along with us. So, in all the busyness of the sport industry and life in general, don’t forget to make memories, because they will be remembered forever. What really matters? Your memories matter!
The fourth and final thing that you will take with you into eternity is your understanding. No, unfortunately, we are not all on the same intellectual playing field in heaven, but rather we pick up there where we left off here. In Proverbs 3:13-14 Solomon says, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.” Solomon, in case you weren’t already aware, was the wealthiest man to ever live. He had the most women and the most wine, yet in this passage of Scripture, he makes it clear that gaining understanding is more profitable than gaining silver or gold. Why does Solomon say this? Because understanding is eternal. In the sport industry, it can be so tempting to avoid growing our knowledge base about God, His Word, and brothers and sisters in Christ around us. Have you taken time to learn from others about what they understand about God? Have you made intentional efforts to grow in your understanding of God’s Word? In all your getting, make sure you get understanding. What really matters? Your understanding matters!
The American dream often revolves around preparing for the last ten years of your life. But what about the next ten million years? We are so busy building our careers, constructing our retirement plans, and inflating our savings accounts that we neglect prioritizing the things that will truly last forever. The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” What really matters? It most often is not the many things that consume us on a daily basis. What truly matters are the treasures of heaven that Jesus commands us to store up: our soul, our relationships, our memories, and our understanding. Set your mind on these things that truly matter, and not on the fleeting things of this world.