2 Corinthians 4:18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
This verse both concludes the ideas of ch. 4 and prepares for ch. 5. Our ultimate hope is not in things of this world but in life eternal. The troubles and difficulties of this world do not compare with the glory promised in the resurrection. The challenge is that we seem to focus more on what is happening to us right now. These are the things right in front of us, that we are experiencing at the moment. Many people live for only the moment. They seek instant gratification with no deep consideration of the future. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (see 1 Corinthians 15:32). The problem with this perspective is that this moment is fleeting, like the breath on a cold winter’s day. This recalls the ideas found in the book of Ecclesiastes, that life is vain, futile, and fleeting. When we focus on the moment, we will often experiences highs and lows, depending on the situation in which we are at that moment. Everything we see now is temporary and destined for destruction. The world is falling apart, although God has put within it moments of renewal and recreation. Life goes on, but there are always difficulties. If we focus on that which is temporary, we will be disappointed and could become delusional.
The answer for this is to look to the eternal and the promises offered in the gospel of Christ. These promises cannot be seen because they are spiritual in nature. We put our hope in them by faith. In this chapter, Paul has challenged the Corinthians to live by faith and not by sight. He will make that more explicit in just a few verses in 5:7. If we live by site, we may grow discouraged from our suffering and persecution. Since many people today do not experience personal persecution, the suffering may be in the form of social rejection and shaming by family and friends or psychological stress from the struggle to be a Christian within a secular society. No matter what troubles us, if we can keep our eyes on the final goal, we will find an inner strength and peace to sustain us through whatever troubles we face. The good news is that this is not experienced simply by human effort or strength. It comes through God’s grace. Faith is simply looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
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