How to Cultivate an Eternal Value System

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Wisdom

The essence of wisdom is to make Christ the center of our lives, not merely a component. This requires a dual attitude of reverential awe in the presence of our Creator and humble dependence on Him.

However, very few people seem to cultivate this attitude of awe and dependence. What makes this attitude so difficult to maintain?

Two Competing Value Systems

Embedded in our fallen human nature is a clash between two value systems: the temporal and the eternal. Our natural disposition is to look to and be shaped by temporal things as if they were eternal. But that value system never really delivers what it promises. It leads to emptiness, delusion, and foolishness.

It’s only when we take the risk of embracing the eternal value system over the temporal that we find true fulfillment, reality, and wisdom.

This doesn’t mean we ignore temporal things. Instead, we ought to leverage temporal things in light of our eternal value system. We must treat temporal things as temporal and eternal things as eternal.

The Brevity of Life

Psalm 90, the oldest psalm in the Bible, gives an excellent picture of what an eternal value system looks like.

First, it recognizes the fleetingness of life—“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10 NASB). This earthbound sojourn is brief; the life to come is eternal. If we forget this, our whole value system will be inverted. We will treat the temporal is if it were eternal and thus serve the wrong master.

But the psalm does not end in hopelessness. Instead, there is a second component. There is a prayer for God to “establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:17 ESV). Even though we live in a temporal arena, the things we do in Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit will not pass away. Instead, they will last into eternity—not because of the works themselves, but because of the One for whom we do them.

Living in Light of Eternity

In light of this truth, we ought to live in a way that leverages our temporal means for an eternal purpose. Here are three suggestions for how to begin cultivating an eternal value system.

1. Remember that only two things in this world are eternal: God’s Word and people. Therefore, your time would be best spent by investing the former into the latter.

2. Live with only two days on your calendar: today and the coming day of Christ’s return. Those are the only two days that ultimately matter. You can’t change the past or determine your future, and the day of Christ’s return will fix your mind on eternity. The wisest way to approach your days, then, is to live today in light of that Day.

3. Meditate daily on the brevity of this life and the eternity of the life to come. This will enable you not to lose heart when the temporal things of this life fail you (2 Corinthians 4:16). Recognizing that the days of your life are finite will lead to a “heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

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