Most people are aware they need to plan for the future. There’s retirement, housing, education, kids, and more that need our attention.
But what about our spiritual future?
Do we put as much effort into thinking about our spiritual future as we do into our 401(k) and our kid’s education? Do we think about our spiritual futures as much as we do our current life situation or present desires?
In Philippians 3, Paul reminds us about the importance of being focused on our spiritual future. Here’s the text:
11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
– Philippians 3:11-16 (ESV)
Hermeneutical note: It may seem strange to start a passage in the middle of the sentence, but I included verse 11 because it explains the “this” is verse 12.
Planning for our spiritual futures means changing our focus from the past and present to the future.
The Problem with Focusing on the Past or Present
We often focus on the past, seeing it through the lens of nostalgia. When this happens, we can become blind to what is (the present) and what can be (the future). We should learn from the past, but we should never live in it.
Sometimes we become focused on the here and now, neglecting the past and ignoring the future. Living in the moment can lead to ignoring possible consequences, dwelling on current problems, or seeking to obtain things for ourselves. We should be aware of the present, but we should never forsake the past or future.
Rather than living in the past or existing in the moment, we should look toward the future.
The Call to Focus on the Future
There are two futures: one for those without faith in Christ and one for those with faith in him. For non-believers, the future is one of judgment and Hell; for the faithful, the future is one of grace, glory, hope, love, mercy, and much more.
In Paul’s letter, he’s addressing primarily the believers, telling us to live an anticipation, hope, and excitement for our future in God’s glory. We should allow that future to influence how we live so that we experience and exhibit it in our daily lives.
So, how do we accomplish this?
4 Tips to Plan for our Spiritual Future
To help accomplish this, here are four tips to plan and live for your spiritual future.
- Attend church regularly. We should gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ for spiritual growth, refreshment, education, repentance, and worship.
- Pray regularly. Prayer is vital to spiritual growth. It keeps us in communion and in communication with God.
- Worship daily. Every day and in everything we do, we should worship our risen Savior, Christ Jesus.
- Read the Bible regularly. God gave us his word to help guide, teach, rebuke, and renew us. We should spend time reading, studying, and meditating on it.
Bringing it Home
Many of us plan for our financial and physical futures. Most parents prepare their children for the future. However, we think less often about our spiritual future. Our minds, instead, tend to focus on the past or present, often overlooking the future.
Jesus promised to return and gather his children to himself in the resurrection, after which we’ll spend eternity in God’s glory, grace, and mercy. We can and should, though, experience some of that future in our daily lives.
When we live life with our minds focused on the future, spending time with God in prayer, in worship, and in Scripture, then we will begin to experience that future more and more. Additionally, we will begin living that future, allowing Jesus’ love and glory to flow through us and impact those around us.
What other tips might you offer to help us plan for and live out our spiritual future?