“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but things which are not seen are eternal” 2 Corinthians 4:18
In a world that has gone haywire and is governed by the spirit of antichrist (1 John 2:18) it is possible that we might get our eyes on wrong things which will cause us to lose heart. Paul is writing to a church living in an environment not that different to the one in which we live. The Roman world and the religious world of Israel were hostile to the Gospel of Christ. Paul had been the lead persecutor until he met the risen Jesus Christ.
In verse sixteen he writes, “Do not lose heart.” The Christians were suffering affliction at the hands of the ungodly but Paul writes encouraging them to keep their eyes on the things that really matter, on things eternal. The book of Ecclesiastes is written from the perspective of one who sought meaning in temporal things but concluded that such was futile. Only when he looked at eternal things did life have meaning and hope.
People who are trying to save this world will eventually be greatly disappointed. Because of sin the world will pass away. All the ambitions of men that drive them to labour and war with one another over wealth and power will prove futile. The very things they fight for are temporal and put them in opposition to God and make them blind to things eternal.
Paul does not shy away from the fact that it will appear that Jesus Christ and His people are on the losing end but that is only when we lose focus of the end. The Psalmist wrote it this way, “When I thought how to understand this it was too painful for me – until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (Psalm 73:16-17). The sanctuary is the place where we meet intimately with the Lord. Like the psalmist, when we are in the Lord’s presence we will understand the end of His enemies.
It may seem that we are enduring this ungodly world for too long but relatively speaking it is but a moment compared with the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (v 17) that we will experience forever when we are with the Lord.
We remain in the world to be salt and light and to make disciples until He deems it time to bring us home. Let us keep our eyes on things eternal; keep our expectations on things eternal; keep our prayers and hopes for our loved ones on things eternal. All that is seen is passing away so let us not lose heart giving our affections to them. Paul wrote, “Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind [affections] on things above not on things of the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). If we do as Paul has written we will not lose heart but walk with Jesus full of joy and peace.