Temporal or Eternal Values?
And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
~ 1 Pet. 1:8-9
James tells us that there is a warfare between an earthly and demonic wisdom and a heavenly and divine wisdom (Jas. 3:13-17). Each of us is required to make a choice. Which will we believe? How consistent is our behavior with our belief?
The temporal value system promotes pleasure as an end in itself. It implies that people who are willing to forgo earthly pleasures in their pursuit of the ways of God are missing out on “the good life.” The eternal value system says that knowing God is the greatest pleasure of all. God Himself is the Source of true pleasure; by comparison, everything else is a shadow.
The temporal value system exalts recognition and approval of men. The eternal value system exhorts us to desire the approval of God above that of men. “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
The temporal value system tells us to pursue fame and popularity. The eternal value system calls us to emulate the servanthood of Christ. The former raises wealth and status as a standard of success, security, and identity; the latter elevates the standard of integrity and character. (“But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them;” Jer. 45:5.) The former drives us to amass power over people and circumstances; the latter tells us to walk humbly before our God.
But the crucial contrast lies in where these opposing value systems ultimately lead:
TEMPORAL -   ETERNAL
Pleasure -   Knowing God
Recognition of men - Approval of God
Popularity - Servanthood
Wealth/status -   Integrity/character
Power -   Humility
Emptiness -   Fulfillment
Delusion -   Reality
Foolishness -   Wisdom
People think they want pleasure, recognition, popularity, status, and power, but the pursuit of these things leads, in the final analysis, to emptiness, delusion, and foolishness. God has set eternity in our hearts (Eccles. 3:11), and our deepest desires are fulfillment (love, joy, peace), reality (that which does not fade away), and wisdom (skill in living). The only path to this true fulfillment lies in the conscious choice of the eternal value system, because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This choice is based on trusting a Person we have not yet seen.
Lord, guide me into the values of the eternal and away from the trap of the temporal world. Amen.
~ Ken Boa
Dr. Boa is devoted to a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking. He holds a B.S. in astronomy from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England. Visit his website at KenBoa.org.