Tuesday, May 4, 2010

But On What Is Unseen

I had to write a devotional for Gotham Fellowship on a passage of my choosing. Thought I'd share it here.

Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

John Calvin’s Commentary on 2nd Corinthians 4:16

"Though our outward man. The outward man, some improperly and ignorantly confound with the old man and others restrict it entirely to the body; but it is a mistake, for the Apostle intended to comprehend, under this term, everything that relates to the present life. As he here sets before us two men, so you must place before your view two kinds of life — the earthly and the heavenly. The outward man is the maintenance of the earthly life, which consists not merely in the flower of one’s age, (1 Corinthians 7:36,) and in good health, but also in riches, honors, friendships, and other resources.

Hence, according as we suffer a diminution or loss of these blessings, which are requisite for keeping up the condition of the present life, is our outward manin that proportion corrupted. For as we are too much taken up with the present life, so long as everything goes on to our mind, the Lord, on that account, by taking away from us, by little and little, the things that we are engrossed with, calls us back to meditate on a better life. Thus, therefore, it is necessary, that the condition of the present life should decay, in order that the inward man may be in a flourishing state; because, in proportion as the earthly life declines, does the heavenly life advance, at least in believers but without anything to compensate for it. In the sons of God, on the other hand, a decay of this nature is the beginning, and, as it were, the cause of production. He says that this takes place daily, because God continually stirs us up to such meditation. Would that this were deeply seated in our minds, that we might uninterruptedly make progress amidst the decay of the outward man! "

Two things hit me good about this passage.
The first one I discovered through Calvin’s commentary on it. Calvin says that the “outward man” is referring to every part of our earthly life on this earth. Not just to our health and bodies, but to our “riches, honors, friendships, and other resources.” Our careers, our relationships, our status, etc. But then Calvins says that the Lord takes these things away from us “by little and little, the things that we are engrossed with” in order to bring us back to meditate on a better life. And therefore, it’s NECESSARY for these things to decay in our life, for them to pass away, for them to not satisfy or even to totally disappoint us in order that our inward man to “be in a flourishing state.”
The second thing is the phrase “Therefore we do not lose heart.” The New Living Translation of this phrase is “That is why we never give up.”

If I truly grasped the idea of how temporary this life is, if I truly understand that it was the building block of a life to come then I would THEREFORE “not lose heart.” What logical argument. This life (what is seen) is temporary, the Kingdom to come (what is unseen) is eternal and THEREFORE we just don’t lose heart. We do not allow the things of this world that we see to discourage us.

Dear Lord,
I pray that you will show us how to fix our eyes on what is unseen. I pray that you will help us to focus far beyond ourselves and so much on the Beauty and Sovereignty of who You are and the promises of the Kingdom to come that we will not lose heart. I pray that we will experience being inwardly renewed day by day as the things around us that are not meant to satisfy us continue to waste away. You are telling us these things will waste away so I pray we will not be surprised, bitter, anxious, sullen or fearful when they do but instead we will fix our eyes on what is unseen. That we will fix our eyes on what Jesus did on the Cross for us and that this example of Love will be the catalyst for our not losing heart.
P.S. Photo by tanakawho on Flickr.

1 comment:

Katinka said...

Love it, love it, Lauren! My favorite passage in Scripture, and you did a wonderful job helping us meditate on how it should inform our daily walk. Thanks for the blessing. :)