Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

By Ken Noakes

I have been reflecting on 2 Corinthians 4 and particularly on what the Apostle Paul with Timothy say to their friends in the church of Corinth.

‘We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 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.’ (2 Cor 4:16-18)

We all live with burdens – day by day or week by week troubles stemming from life, health, work or family matters. Yet those are not primarily the burdens that Paul refers to here.

Paul wants his friends to recognise those troubles which are a result of faith in Jesus Christ. And he does not see those troubles negatively. He says, those momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory. Whatever those troubles must be, they have to be the troubles which are temporal and experienced now because they have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord.

Our passage, in its context, is a call to arms and a reminder that those who live in the light, live in an age where the gospel is veiled (4:3), people’s minds are blinded (4:4), the dominant concern is that of self (4:5) and the result is that the world is dark (4:6). It seems that the world for the church in Corinth is not that different to the world that we know in Adelaide.

The Christian on the other hand is called to shine a light into that dark world and Paul’s concern is that his friends do what is asked of them, not losing heart (4:1, 16) even when there is push back. As such he suggests believers will experience and see those outward pressures which war upon their minds and bodies, yet recognise that inwardly they are being renewed day by day and that there is a day coming when the light they shine and the momentary troubles that they experience will be all in God’s glory eternally.

So what should they do?

Fix their eyes not on what is seen (now), but on what is unseen (the gospel veiled to unbelievers, yet not veiled to believers – 4:18 c.f. 4:3).

Fix their eyes on Jesus whose death and life is at work in those who believe.

Christians keep the main thing the main thing and preach Jesus Christ as Lord (4:5) – and don’t lose heart.

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