Thinking Long Term

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It’s interesting that there is only one man in the entire Bible that I believe it says that God “hated.” Easu (Romans 9:13, Malachi 1:3). And the term “hate” is a pretty strong word. But, like other things that rub people the wrong way, the problem here is that I didn’t say it. God did. (Don’t shoot the messenger!).

Doing a Google search on the subject will bring up any number of responses, from the term actually means God selected one man over another, to this concept further fueling people’s argument that God is unjust and therefore can not possibly exist. (Or if he does, he is not worth following). But I believe there is a deeper lesson to be learned. Granted, I can only suggest things here as I don’t know exactly what God was thinking. But I might have an idea.

My family and I love to go to the beach. During a recent visit, the water was a bit too cold to go in all the way, so my oldest son and I decided to wade. Now, wading is not a very manly thing to do, I admit, but wade we did. And Jennifer grabbed a few pics of us as we stomped around, making foot impressions in the sand and watching them get washed away.

Upon further reflection of the pictures, I sensed the Lord speaking to me about the subject of investing, and specifically what I’m passing on to my children. Leaving footprints in the sand only lasts so long. A few seconds, when the waves are rolling in. In order to have impressions last in the sand, you actually have to be standing in them. While I can stand with my son, one day, I will be gone. And he will be by himself, or maybe standing with his own son.

Sorry for all the melancholy. But there is a point to it. It’s incredibly important what I impart to my children…what I prepare for them…what I leave them with. One day when I’m gone, my footprints will be washed away. But their’s won’t be…if they’re still standing in the surf. Paul challenges us, after having made every effort to achieve maturity, to continue standing in the ways that we were taught.

I believe that it’s this attention to those coming after us–those we may never meet–that deeply moves the heart of the Father. An adamant consideration for those that we leave behind to carry on in our stead. That we would do anything to see them blessed, and put the needs of those we have yet to meet above our own.

He exchanged his long term blessing for short term satisfaction.

For those familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau, it was the older brother who traded his birthright–his inheritance, and his ability to bless his sons and daughters because of it–for a bowl of soup. He exchanged his long term blessing, and that of those coming after him, for short term satisfaction.

As Believers, it’s paramount that we think less of our own well being and more of those coming after us. Surely there is much to be said for keeping yourself in good health, stewardship of your finances, and personal pursuit of relationship with Jesus. But far more is said in scripture about forsaking yourself and pouring into others. Preparing for others is an even better way to say it. (Personal disciplines promote these very means!).

Imagine if every church in the US had the foresight to purchase tracks of land in regions, like here in the St. Lawrence River valley–also known as the 1,000 Islands–thirty years ago when the property was worth relativity nothing. Today, the value has gone up exponentially. Just a few waterfront acres purchased in 1970 for a few month’s salary is now worth a small fortune. Churches today in Jefferson County wouldn’t need to raise funds for building projects, they’d be too busy sending missionaries overseas! Obviously, I’m not railing against building projects, I’m simply presenting the potential of where we could be with a little foresight.

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I believe it’s this utter contempt for his birthright that grieved God’s heart with regard to Esau. The scripture literally says that Esau despised his birthright. Many times we despise our birthright in Christ passively. Ambivalence and apathy are deadly vices that has robbed many people of not only their inheritances, but of their children’s future successes. You may not have natural blood children, but the Lord is very clear that we are to go out and make disciples–spiritual sons and daughters. And your heart and effort to see them walk in success says everything about the condition of your own heart and attitude toward the value of God’s mercy in your own life.

I believe that it’s this attention to those coming after us–those we may never meet–that deeply moves the heart of the Father.

Jacob, on the other hand, later had a name change to Israel–a legacy we are still aware of thousands of years later–all because he valued the concept of inheritance and the ability to bless those coming after him. His focus was not on the now, it was on the future. He was actively planning to touch the lives of people he would never shake hands with. And in that motive rests the absence of selfishness and the presence of sacrifice. Sounds a lot like Jesus to me.

What are you actively cultivating in your spiritual life and your natural life that will endure as a legacy for those you will never meet? The tide is coming in. ch:

  • I think of it this way. Our ancestors and family have placed many things into a “bank account” if you will. These things can include everything – prayers, a good name, a constructive legacy, opportunities, good will, good stories, love, and a foundation. We all will be consumers of these things left by those who have gone before us, but the real question is will we simply consume them, or will we add back into the account. Will we pursue excellence in our physical and spiritual lives so that we can put back into the account, or will we simply deplete it and leave future generations in lack?

  • WF: Love the bank account concept. Thanks for sharing. Love reading your thoughts, bro. Seriously. ch: