Habit #2 is to begin with the end in mind.
I’ll be the first to admit that once you read this statement, you can’t unread it. It becomes a constant notification in your mind.
You may feel guilty. I did.
However, I want you to know you have already executed this habit in many ways. Allow me to remind you:
When you cook dinner, you are cooking with the end in mind. Your goal is to cook a certain type of food, in a certain amount of time, for a certain amount of people. Does it go perfectly? As we all know, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Nevertheless, you have the desired outcome in mind.
When you take the kids to school, you are planning for the end in mind. You plan to get everyone out of the house at a certain time so they can reach their destination on time. Sometimes you get it right, and sometimes you don’t. Nevertheless, you have the end in mind.
When you get ready for work, you are planning for the end in mind. You wake up. You shower. You eat. You have a clear picture of what the “end in mind” looks like. Your goal is to look and feel good so that you can do your best work. This is living with the end in mind.
These examples are in shorter time frames, but what if we took a few steps back? Let’s take a look at Jesus. His whole life was designed with the end in mind.
The cross, your sins, and His resurrection. His life is the ultimate blueprint for living with the end in mind.
When I dig into this idea further, I’m led to Matthew 6:19-21. Have a read through what it says:
‘“Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ‘
I remember when this verse hit me in the face. I was with a group of Christian business guys. The speaker challenged us about Kingdom ROI, meaning, what is our return on investment in the Kingdom of God?
He was saying, what intentional treasures are you storing in heaven?
You and I understand ROI (return on investment) when it comes to time and finances, but have you ever considered what Kingdom ROI looks like?
I’ve heard this verse in Matthew a bunch of times, but I never attached it to this idea of Kingdom ROI. I had to look deeper into where and what I was putting my time, talent, and treasure. If I was honest with myself, I was only concerned with my time, talent, and treasure on Earth. I was not even considering what I wanted to store up in heaven.
So, what does storing up treasures in heaven look like?
Jesus shares some practical ways to do this throughout Matthew 4 - 7. I want to challenge you to invest time and read these chapters line-by-line. Yes, line-by-line. Take your time to understand what Jesus was saying and why He was saying it.
Matthew Ruttan from the Gospel Coalition shares an insightful starter list of what is considered to be treasured in heaven that I completely agree with.
Being humble and pure in heart (Matthew 5:5, 8)
Hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6)
Showing mercy (Matthew 5:7)
Making peace (Matthew 5:9)
Being persecuted for the sake of righteousness (Matthew 5:10)
Being “the salt of the earth,” which is about, in part, preserving the flavor of godliness in the world and our relationships (Matthew 5:13)
Being the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
Following God’s commands (Matthew 5:19)
Resisting anger (Matthew 5:22)
Being faithful to one’s spouse (Matthew 5:28, 32)
Keeping your word (Matthew 5:37)
Turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)
Providing for physical needs (Matthew 5:40, 42)
Going the extra mile (Matthew 5:41)
Loving your enemies (Matthew 5:44)
Praying for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)
Giving to the needy discreetly (Matthew 6:3)
Prayer, specifically praying for God’s name to be revered as holy and for His kingdom to come (Matthew 6:6.)
Practicing forgiveness (Matthew 6:12)
Fasting (Matthew 6:16)
Shunning worry and trusting God to provide for your needs (Matthew 6:25)
Seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33)
Not being unfairly judgmental, but someone who examines their own life and integrity first (Matthew 7:1, 5)
Pursuing the things of God (Matthew 7:7)
Entering through the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13)
Being on guard against false prophets (Matthew 7:15)
Practicing authentic discipleship, meaning that we not only believe in Jesus but seek to know him and do what he says (Matthew 7:21)
Being wise. And what does it mean to be wise? Jesus gives us the definition of wisdom. It is hearing his words and putting them into practice (Matthew 7:24)
In addition to what Matthew mentioned above, let’s look at the widow and orphan. The widow and orphan are highlighted many times in the Old and New Testaments.
Below are a few verses to remind us how God views them. This is another example of living with the end in mind when it comes to storing up treasures in heaven.
Psalms 65:8 says, ‘God in his holy dwelling is a father of the fatherless and a champion of widows.’
In James 1:27, it says, ‘Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.’
In addition to these passages, I always like to look at what the early church was doing. There are many other verses in the Old Testament about looking after the widow and the orphan, but what did the church in Acts do?
If you read Acts 6:1, you’ll see exactly what was happening. ‘In those days, as the disciples were increasing in number, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.”
The church was growing. The disciples needed help to look after the widows and the orphans. The early church’s first new hires were to care for the widows and orphans.
I love the clarity in this, and I want to ask you, what is going through your mind right now as it pertains to Kingdom ROI?
What are you thinking about when it comes to living with the end in mind in your life? Cut out the house, the cars, and the holidays. What does this new idea of living with the end in mind look like to you?
What does your calendar, bank statement, and focus say about what is #1 in your life?
What do you need to start doing?
What do you need to stop doing?
Do you have a plan in place to make this happen?
When will you begin?
What is the date?
I know, for many, this is a huge shake-up in thinking.
It shook my world. My hand is up. I had my focus on the wrong things. I was not living with the correct end in mind.
If you want to become a highly effective believer, you have to live with the correct end in mind.
Let me know what resonates with you the most.
I’m curious to hear where you are at.
Let’s get better together.
Rooting for you!
Coach Anthony Thompson