“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 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. For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1
In everything that he did, Paul looked to the life and example of Jesus Christ. While Jesus modelled what it means to live a purposeful and abundant life, he certainly did not advocate the prosperity gospel that is so popular today. Even though he was the Son of God, Jesus did not experience the best that this world had to offer. Jesus was rejected by his very own people; he was constantly misunderstood – not just by his opponents but by those who were closest to him; he was abandoned by his closest friends; and he died the most agonizing death a person could die. Thankfully, that is not the end to Jesus’ story: he died, was buried, and then rose again on the third day. While the life of Jesus seemed to be filled with heartache and loss, the resurrection tells another story. Jesus triumphed over every person, every spiritual force, and death itself. Through him, Paul and every follower of Jesus has the assurance of our own victory, our own resurrection.
At this point in his ministry, Paul had experienced humiliation, rejection, and intense physical pain. Remember the time he was stoned and left for dead outside the city of Lystra (Acts 14:19). Paul was frequently imprisoned then wrote many of his letters from house arrest. He was shipwrecked, whipped, and scourged for the name of Jesus Christ. Yet, Paul did not lose heart. Earlier in this chapter, Paul wrote of our earthly bodies being jars of clay. The power was not in the jar but in what the jar held – the power and presence of the Lord. While earthly bodies wear out and break, the inner self is renewed day by day. God’s Spirit within us will never die, will never wear out, will never break. While experiencing intense hardship, the call is to look away from the temporary and to focus on the eternal.
The world tells you to savor every moment here, to indulge and gratify your desires, to live fully until you die. The Lord tells us to savor our moments, to live fully, to tame those desires, and to recognize what is perishing and what is not. Hope is found when we look to the promise of our resurrected bodies and our eternal home with the Lord. Paul would go on to say that our earthly afflictions prepare us for that eternal home. They remind us that we are not home yet. The best is yet to come!
Our eternal glory will far outweigh every earthly glory. When adversity comes in our lives, we must keep asking the Holy Spirit to give us that eternal perspective and hope. Then and only then can we live like the Apostle Paul, or more importantly like Jesus. We can live abundantly in this world making the best use of the time to the glory of God.
Reflect & Respond:
How does the Lord want to encourage and strengthen your heart today through these words of Paul? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the Living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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