With humility in hand, we imagine the future. The following questions help you do this. What are you doing that you want to remain private? Forecast into the future and imagine your life when the private becomes public, because it will become public. What have you learned from the funerals of the wise and funerals of the foolish? Similarly, what have you learned from those who are older than yourself (Eccl 11:9–12:8)?
Here are two prominent spiritual skills:
- live now, in today, rather than tomorrow
- live in tomorrow rather than in gut reactions and unexamined decisions today.
The first is a familiar rule for anxiety. We live in the grace that God gives us for right now, and we trust our Heavenly Father to worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:32–34). This, certainly, takes a lifetime to master.
The other is just as important—and where we will focus. If we live for now, and now alone, our desires can deceive us and we will end up in bad places. Better to walk that path further into the future to see where it goes. The wisdom literature—Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes—identifies both of these skills, but it has a particular interest in living in the future, imagining what is just over the hill of our chosen path. Wise people have looked off into the future and adjusted their course accordingly. Foolish people simply do not consider the consequences of certain behaviors.
Wisdom does not promise an easy life, and it does not promise that our alertness to the future will ward off all unfavorable consequences to our decisions. But it is the best path because it ends in life.