From temporal to eternal
We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. – 2 Corinthians 4:18
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
As we age, we enter into the golden years. Two polar realities come into play. The first is that our bodies will inevitably wear down, wear out, and eventually return to dust. However, getting older also has its perks.
With age comes what is called crystallized intelligence. Crystallized intelligence is the accumulation of knowledge. This knowledge is accumulated from both education and life experience. As you learn more and more with age, your crystallized intelligence grows and becomes stronger. There is no end to the things that you can experience or learn. The positive result is to become better and better at using what we have learned. The way we see, understand, and navigate our way through the world becomes characterized by wisdom. Wisdom is putting our knowledge to good use.
But of greater importance than crystallized intelligence, is the growth of our spirit. This is possible for every child of the King. Our human spirit can grow stronger as we grow closer to the Father and learn to rely upon Him. John the Baptist is an impressive example. Luke makes a very salient observation.
Luke 1:80 The child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit.
The human spirit is capable of growing stronger and stronger when exercised and developed over time. The apostle Paul shows us the way.
“Paul’s sufferings, while not fatal, were destroying his body. Nevertheless, even this did not discourage him for even though physically he was decaying, spiritually he was still developing” (Constable). Paul went through a total perspective transformation. What was the catalyst of this transformation? From a human perspective, it was totally unexpected.
2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope.
5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
The struggles and difficulties of life which Paul went through and overcame transformed him. He now had the Father’s perspective. This eternal perspective focused on the hope things to come sustained Paul during the temporary sufferings that marked his life. “What is seen (the material) is temporary, but what is unseen (the spiritual) is eternal” (BKC).
REFLECT & PRAY
What we see is informed by what we expect to see. When our eyes are earthbound we are limited by what is visible in the material world.
Father open the eyes of my heart to see things as they really are, Not as they appear to be to my limited human eyes.
Paul had an eternal perspective. He had come to see things as the Father sees them. The eyes of Paul’s heart had become enlightened (Ephesians 1:18). He could now see the unseen. The Father Himself is unseen by human eyes. But with the eyes of faith, the eyes of the heart, He becomes visible. The Father and all that He had revealed and promised had become more real and substantial than what Paul could see with his eyes.
Like Moses, Paul was able to persevere and overcome hardship.
Hebrews 11:27 [Moses] kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.
Paul was convinced that his sufferings and hardship in this life were fleeting and momentary.
2 Corinthians 4:18 The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The Scriptures present a remarkable paradox permeated with provocative irony. The physical things that we see now seem durable and lasting. But in fact they are only temporary, ephemeral. The eternal realities of the Father and eternity with Him that we cannot see with our physical eyes are lasting and eternal.
Eternal invisible realities become clear and vibrant as transient visible realities fade and become dim. The challenges of temporary discouragement diminishes. Paul was mighty in spirit. His spirit was being renewed day by day. Even as Paul’s outer physical tent was breaking down, often unprotected, abused, beaten, and frequently left for dead, the Father renewed him inwardly every day. He became stronger and stronger in his spirit as responded in faith to the troubles he faced. Instead of dragging him down, they offered the opportunity to experience great joy.
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
4 So let it grow . . ..
“God will never be a debtor to anyone. That means that any ‘sacrifice’ we make or hardship we endure for His sake and by His Spirit, He will amply reward out of all proportion to what we suffered” (Stanley).
“It’s easy to grow old if you haven’t grown up” (John Hively).