I used to help people write applications for academic positions. One of the requirements was for the applicants to explain their future research and career plans. The request was usually broken down into 5- and 10-year plans, with 10 years being considered “long term”.
As born-agains, our long term is forever, and the position we’re applying for is to be “like angels”, as Jesus described.
When you make plans and decisions based on a term that lasts forever, those plans and decisions are completely different than when you make them based on 5 or 10 years, or even a lifetime.
Let’s have an example. You’ve had some business and personal dealings with someone who is less than honest and who has maligned you to others to cover the dishonesty. You’ve considered outing this person as a warning to others, but you know that Jesus’ directive is to love your enemies and to pray for those who treat you badly. Giving bad press to someone isn’t loving them or praying for them.
From a short-term perspective, you might consider confronting this person about what he’s done and try to extract an apology or some kind of promise that it won’t be done again.
From a longer-term perspective, you might consider warning your colleagues about this person so that they don’t end up with the same issues as you.
But from an infinite perspective (that is, from God’s perspective), your job isn’t to correct this person or to warn others about him; Jesus said that you’re simply to love him, bless him, and pray for him.
I can tell you from personal experience that it takes some habit-building to get to the point where you no longer try to correct, extract an apology from, or trash-talk someone who’s done you wrong. But as you’re forming the habit, you can see and feel the difference it makes in your life. When you choose confrontation, there is no peace or rest. There is just an unease that doesn’t go away. When you choose to trash-talk, there is an even greater sense of unease that also doesn’t go away. There is no resolution to conflict by trying to correct or malign someone. You have to love that person through prayer and blessings and let God take it from there.
I just went through a scenario where I had solid grounds (in the eyes of the world) for complaining and demanding restitution. But after I’d cooled my heels a bit, I decided instead to go with Jesus’ way, and I bought a gift for the person and gave him good reviews for his business. The unease that had plagued me for a few days when I was contemplating how I should deal with the problem immediately fell away, and I also stopped thinking about him. What he did was done and could not be undone, but it could be forgotten and no longer spoken of. He certainly knew what he had done to me, so my gift and praises must have been a head-scratcher for him, to say the least.
I am not his judge. Those who do wrong purposely do it because they’re in some kind of emotional pain and are lashing out. Christians are typical targets. My gift and gesture of good will was either a balm to his soul or was heaping coals on him, but either outcome is no concern to me. He’s in God’s hands. When I think of him now, I wish him well in my heart. There is no longer a sense of unease or outrage.
When you love and bless rather than curse and avenge, you are making decisions and plans based on the longest of long terms, which is forever. You can live your life thinking short term, long term, or lifetime, but the decisions you’ll make based on those relatively short perspectives might not be the same as those you’ll make when you’re thinking in terms of forever.
I don’t want anything to get in my way of making it to Heaven. I don’t want to appear before God and Jesus on Judgement Day with them pointing out to me that I should have forgiven when I had the chance. I don’t want them to shake their heads at me sadly and tell me I knew better, but it’s too late now.
So I put my pride aside and I bless.
I put my pride aside and I pray.
I put my pride aside, even as people are calling me a sucker – I put my pride aside and buy a gift and give a good review. I can feel God’s Spirit working through me powerfully when I do that, and for me, that is a far greater rush and reward than “getting even” could ever be.
I’m not making decisions based on short term or long term. I’m not even making them based on a lifetime. I’m making them based on what’s right for all eternity, rather than what’s expedient or what appears to benefit me right now.
I hope that you’ll also make decisions and plans based on forever.