Looking At the Unseen Things

Posted on February 19, 2021


By David Ettinger

This is the 3rd of a 3-part series based on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. The first is Never Lose Heart, Christian. The second is This World But a Light Affliction.

Perfect Instruction
In 2 Corinthians 4:16, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to never lose heart. In verse 17, he assured them that though they suffered, compared to what awaited them, their suffering would seem but “light affliction.”

In verse 18, he brings these two truths to a logical conclusion, urging the Corinthians to not focus their attentions on this passing world, but to look to eternity. Paul writes: “[Therefore] 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.”

Perfect instruction for the Corinthians; perfect instruction for believers today.

Eternal Perspective
As Christians, we know our time on Earth is but a “visitation”; we are sojourners and strangers (1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20). Rather, we will receive immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-49) in which we will live for eternity.

So yes, we are to live as best we can to please God and serve others during our time on Earth, but we are not to cling to this world. Paul tells us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The apostle John tells us to “not love the world nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15).

This does not mean we should not care about what happens here on Earth, but that we should not desire earthly things. As such, we should not be consumed with that which will one day perish, such as riches, but set our hope on that which is eternal.

Our perspective on life should be an eternal one. For instance, instead of Christians getting enraged over Presidential Elections that don’t go their way, they should get enraged over the horrors of sin. Rather than passionately supporting our political candidates, we should be passionately promoting the Gospel.

Paul describes the ideal Christian eternal perspective this way: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Rather than fear death, Paul embraced it as it would bring him into the presence of the Lord Jesus.

This should be every Christians’ perspective. Rather than fear death, we should embrace it when our time comes. We should not lament leaving this sinful world, but should desire that which awaits us, as it is glorious beyond anything we can imagine.

As such, we shouldn’t wring our hands over politics, but over those who leave this world without having confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Really, how foolish is it for believers to lament that which is temporal? How do we know what is temporal? As verse 18 tells us, if we can see it, it is temporal, hence destined to perish.

However, that which is unseen – the eternal glory awaiting us (v. 17) – will last forever. This eternal glory includes our perfect, imperishable bodies; a blissful existence of joy; and, best of all, forever being in the presence of the Lord Jesus.

Seek the Unseen
In the meantime, while we live our mortal existences here on Earth, trials and sufferings will come. But if Paul has taught us anything in these 3 verses, it is that these trials and sufferings will vanish, while the glory that awaits us will be eternal.

So let the promise of that which is unseen – eternal glory – sustain you for the rest of your days here on Earth, knowing that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)!