I heard an excellent sermon once about sex. Sex is always an exciting topic, isn't it? I wonder if I'd get more visits to the blog if I wrote the word sex more in my posts! Sex, sex, sex.
Anyway, the preacher was advocating against sex before marriage. He brought up the fact a lot of young people think they're going to miss out on something. He noted that even if we died without ever having sex, it isn't like we'd miss it in Heaven. We won't spend eternity sitting around thinking, "man, I really wish I would have done that one thing I wasn't supposed to do at the time."
This is true for sex, but I've found it true for a lot of other things. For instance, if I never get married, I'm not going to spend eternity thinking, "Wow, everything would have been better if only I'd been married." There is no "better" than Heaven. The same holds for anything else in life. If I don't get the job I want, it won't matter in eternity. if I never get new carpet for my house, it won't matter in eternity. If I never write a novel, it won't matter in eternity. My bucket list won't matter once I'm dead.
Of course there's nothing wrong with me getting married, changing jobs, buying new carpet, or writing a novel. Those are all perfectly moral things. Marriage is a sacrament even! But I shouldn't waste all my energy here worrying about them if they don't happen. What does matter, now and later, is following, serving, obeying, and loving God. Am I doing those things when I get married? Am I doing those things when I look at jobs? Am I don't those things when buying a carpet? (And yes, buying a carpet can involve God; we're just stewards of all of His goods. Including the carpet.) Am I doing those things when I write?
I've often heard this referred to as an eternal perspective. Now is a very tiny blip on the timeline of eternity. Our lives here are so very short in comparison.
The above examples are all positive things, but the same logic can go the other way. Do I have time to be angry with others? Will whatever offense they've committed matter for eternity? There are times when the answer to this is yes of course, and we certainly should do something about moral causes. But I'm talking about the guy that cut me off on the way to work today, not a nation committing genocide. Which one of those do we tend to get more angry at anyway? It isn't the one with the actual murders, by and large. No, we waste time being angry with a complete stranger who probably just wasn't paying attention and had no ill will. This is seriously lacking in an eternal perspective. What about jealousy? Greed? Which of the deadly sins do we each pick out to spend our time on here, instead of thinking about the big picture?
This all makes perfectly good sense writing this here, and maybe you think it makes sense reading it. I find it is so hard to remember when I'm not actively thinking of it though, when I'm mad at the other driver or worried about my carpet or longing to get married. it is in those moments the eternal perspective gets chucked out the window and I focus on the right now and on me, instead of eternity and on God. Seems kinda selfish in those terms, right?