2 Corinthians 4:16-18 - Look Beyond The Gloom To The Glory

2 Cor 4:16 (PHIL)  This is the reason why we never lose heart.  The outward
man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives
fresh strength.
2 Cor 4:17 (PHIL)  These little troubles (which really are so transitory)
are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all
proportion to our pain.
2 Cor 4:18 (PHIL)  For we are looking all the time not at the visible things
but at the invisible.  The visible things are transitory: it is the
invisible things that are really permanent.

These verses bring wonderful assurance to the believer in times of
suffering. Though the outward man is perishing day by day, the inward man,
the spiritual man, is being renewed day by day (see 3:18). Paul is here
weighing his sufferings on God's scales. He discovers that his sufferings
are light when compared to the weight of glory God has stored up for him.
His days and years of trial are nothing compared to the eternity of bliss
that awaits him. How important it is for us to live "with eternity's values
in view." Life takes on new meaning when we see things through God's eyes.
[Wiersbe Expository Outlines]

Why did Paul not lose heart? First, he knew the difference between the
problems of an earthen vessel and the strength found through the glory
within (4:1-15). Second, he looked forward to an eternal state in which a
body of glory would replace the mortal body of weakness [New Bible

What does it mean to waste away? It can mean aging or disease. But it can
also refer to a vulnerability to emotional decay - discouragement or
depression, for example. Body, mind and spirit are all challenged by the
sufferings of this world. But those who are in Christ have an inner core
that grows stronger in spite of and in some ways because of, outward
suffering. [Quest SB]

From the physical point of view life may be a slow but inevitable slipping
down the slope that leads to death. But from the spiritual point of view
life is a climbing up the hill that leads to the presence of God. No man
need fear the years, for they bring him nearer, not to death, but to God.
[Barclay Commentary]

Inward renewal overcomes the outward destruction, and ultimately overcomes
even death itself. [NIV SB]

Outward man. That is, the body, the visible part of man, which decays under
the wear and tear of life. The "inward man," on the other hand, denotes
man's regenerate, spiritual nature, which has been and is daily being
renewed by the Spirit of God. The process of renewal goes forward constantly
and keeps him united to God. . .
It is the daily renewing work of the Spirit in the life that brings about
the complete restoration of the image of God in the soul of man. Thus,
though the outward man may grow old and decay with the years, the inward man
continues to grow in grace as long as life lasts. . .
Every Christian needs this daily renewal if his experience with God is not
to become callous and formal. Spiritual renewal brings new light from God's
Word, new experiences of grace, to share with others, new cleansing of heart
and mind. In contrast, the unregenerate are usually anxious about those
things that pertain to the outer man, what to eat, what to wear, and what to
enjoy. [SDA Commentary]

Our present troubles are insignificant as compared with our future glory.
The future reward will exceed any trouble or suffering that we could have in
this life. [Jamieson, Fausset, And Brown Commentary]

Seen in the perspective of eternity, the Christian's difficulties, whatever
they may be, diminish in importance. Eternal glory is far greater than all
the suffering one may face in this life. [NIV SB]

Our troubles should not diminish our faith or disillusion us. We should
realize that there is a purpose in our suffering. Problems and human
limitations have several benefits: (1) they remind us of Christ's suffering
for us; (2) they keep us from pride; (3) they cause us to look beyond this
brief life; (4) they prove our faith to others; and (5) they give God the
opportunity to demonstrate his power. See your troubles as opportunities!
[Life Application SB]

Affliction contributes to eternal glory by purifying, refining, and
elevating the character. It cultivates trust in, and dependence upon, God.
Affliction exerts a subduing influence upon the heart and mind. It
prostrates pride, subdues self, and is often the means of bringing the will
of the believer into more complete harmony with the will of God. It tests
the believer's faith and the genuineness of his profession as a Christian.
It gives occasion for the exercise and perfection of faith. Faith is
strengthened by exercise. It helps the believer to see things in their true
perspective, and to put first things first. Affliction thus creates in
Christians a suitableness for glory. When worldly objectives are removed
through the discipline of suffering, the Christian finds it easier to set
his affection on heavenly things. It proves the bankruptcy of human wisdom
by placing the believer in difficult positions, where his own helplessness
and need of God becomes apparent. It sanctifies human relationships. Nothing
contributes more to understanding our fellow men and having a feeling of
kindness toward them than do sorrow, trial, and suffering. [SDA Commentary]

Let the child and the youth be taught that every mistake, every fault, every
difficulty, conquered, becomes a stepping-stone to better and higher things.

Giving up often causes us to miss the best God has to offer. It is easy to
lose heart and quit. We all have faced problems in our relationships or in
our work that have caused us to want to think about laying down the tools
and walking away. Rather than giving up when persecution wore him down, Paul
concentrated on experiencing the inner strength from the Holy Spirit (Ephes.
3:16). Don't let fatigue, pain, or criticism force you off the job. Renew
your commitment to serving Christ. Don't forsake your eternal reward because
of the intensity of today's pain. Your very weakness allows the resurrection
power of Christ to strengthen you moment by moment.  [Life Application SB]

Afflictions of themselves have no spiritual nor saving tendency; on the
contrary, they sour the unregenerated mind, and cause murmurings against the
dispensations of divine Providence. Let us, therefore, look to God, that
they may be sanctified; (Adam Clarke Commentary)

Whatever gains the fixed attention of the mind determines how one will
endure trial, whether with hope and patience or with dissatisfaction and
bitterness. The former comes from contemplating the unseen things of the
eternal world (Phil. 4:8), the spiritual realities of Christ; the latter
from looking at such visible, transitory things as wealth, pleasure, and
fame. [SDA Commentary]

These trials of life are God's workmen to remove the impurities,
infirmities, and roughness from our characters, and fit us for the society
of pure, heavenly angels in glory. But as we pass through these trials, as
the fires of affliction kindle upon us, we must not keep the eye on the fire
which is seen, but let the eye of faith fasten upon the things unseen, the
eternal inheritance, the immortal life, the eternal weight of glory; and
while we do this the fire will not consume us, but only remove the dross,
and we shall come forth seven times purified, bearing the impress of the
Divine. 1T705-7

If we think only of the things that are visible we are bound to see life
that way. But there is another way. [Barclay Commentary]

With his eyes fixed on eternal truths which can be experienced but not seen,
[Victor Bible Reader's Companion]

How do troubles achieve glory? Troubles help us see this world for what it
is: imperfect and temporary. That insight leads us to look for the perfect
and permanent. It is in that frame of mind that we can begin to see the
eternal glory of Christ. [Quest SB]

Our ultimate hope when we are experiencing terrible illness, persecution, or
pain is the realization that this life is not all there is--there is life
after death! Knowing that we will live forever with God in a place without
sin and suffering can help us live above the pain that we face in this life.
 [Life Application SB]

In all ages Satan has persecuted the people of God. He has tortured them and
put them to death, but in dying they became conquerors. They revealed in
their steadfast faith a mightier One than Satan. Satan could torture and
kill the body, but he could not touch the life that was hid with Christ in
God. He could incarcerate in prison walls, but he could not bind the spirit.
They could look beyond the gloom to the glory, MB29,30

It is a notable fact that in all the gospel story Jesus never foretold his
death without foretelling his Resurrection. ....For that very reason a man's
eyes must be ever fixed, not on the things that are seen, but on the things
that are unseen. The things that are seen, the things of this world, have
their day and cease to be; the things that are unseen, the things of heaven,
last forever. [Barclay Commentary]

Keeping our gaze fixed on the eternal is the best way to guard against
life's disappointments and distress. [Victor Bible Background Commentary]

In our Christian pilgrimage it is well, for the most part, to be looking
forward. Forward lies the crown, and onward is the goal. Whether it be for
hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future
must, after all, be the grand object of the eye of faith. Looking into the
future we see sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul
made perfect, and fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in
light. Looking further yet, the believer's enlightened eye can see death's
river passed, the gloomy stream forded, and the hills of light attained on
which standeth the celestial city; he seeth himself enter within the pearly
gates, hailed as more than conqueror, crowned by the hand of Christ,
embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with him, and made to sit together
with him on his throne, even as he has overcome and has sat down with the
Father on his throne. The thought of this future may well relieve the
darkness of the past and the gloom of the present. The joys of heaven will
surely compensate for the sorrows of earth. Hush, hush, my doubts! death is
but a narrow stream, and thou shalt soon have forded it. Time, how
short-eternity, how long! Death, how brief-immortality, how endless!
Methinks I even now eat of Eshcol's clusters, and sip of the well which is
within the gate. The road is so, so short! I shall soon be there. [Morning
and Evening by Charles H. Spurgeon]

Be not wearied by the labors which you have undertaken for my sake, nor let
tribulations cast you down.  But let My promise strengthen and comfort you
under every circumstance.  I am well able to reward you, above all measure
and degree....
Do in earnest what you do; labor faithfully in My vineyard (Mat.20:7); I
will be your recompense.  Write, read, chant, mourn, keep silence, pray,
endure crosses manfully.  Life everlasting is worth all these battles, and
greater than these.  Peace shall come in one day which is known unto the
Lord, and there shall be :not day, nor night" (Zec.14:7) (that is, of this
present time), but unceasing light, infinite brightness, steadfast peace,
and secure rest.  Then you shall not say: "Who shall deliver me from the
body of this death?" (Rom.7:24); nor cry: "Woe is me, that I sojourn in
Mesech" (Psa.120:5).  For death shall be cast down headlong, and there shall
be salvation which can never fail, no more anxiety, blessed joy,
companionship sweet and noble....
Lift up your face therefore to Heaven. [Thomas a Kempis; Time with God
devotional SB]

So few things in our lives last forever.  In fact, Jesus tells us in Matthew
24:35 that "heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass
away." It makes you wonder, doesn't it, why we spend so much time, energy,
and resources on the things of this world - making money, creating a name,
impressing our neighbors, collecting treasures, seeking pleasure - when we
know that they will all be gone one day. Like God Himself, His Word is
eternal.  What results from His Word is also eternal:  fruits of the Spirit
such as love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and
self-control; fruits of our labor such as soul winning, seed planting, soil
watering; the fruit of righteousness such as a pure life. What will you say
on that day when you stand before the Lord to give an account of your time?
 Today is a good day to start over: read His Word, apply it to your life,
and  live it out!  [In His Time; Walk With Wisdom]

Jesus places mankind in two categories:  those who follow Him and those who
do not.  Those who follow Him are in the minority and must struggle against
the current of our time in order to be obedient to Him.  The Lord calls His
followers to a life of selflessness; the world encourages each to get all
that he can.  The Lord calls His followers to a life of patient waiting; the
world urges immediate gratification.  The Lord calls His followers to labor
for the kingdom; the world strives for bigger, better, and the most now.
What do you do more than others?  Are you more selfless or selfish?  Are you
waiting or striving?  Does what you do have eternal or temporal
significance?  Think about it!  [In His Time; Walk With Wisdom]

Margery Williams wrote a delightful children's story about two nursery
animals, a Velveteen Rabbit (after which the book is named) and a Skin
Horse, who was very old and very wise. "What is real?" asked the Velveteen
Rabbit. The Skin Horse said, "Real isn't how you are made, it is a thing
that happens when you are loved for a long, long time. Generally, by the
time you are real most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop
out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't
matter at all, because once you are REAL you can't be ugly except to those
who don't understand. Once you are real you can't become unreal again. It
lasts for always" (Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit [New York: Simon &
Schuster, Inc., 1975]).
The gospel treasure is contained by people marked by weakness, frailty and a
kind of living death. Paradoxically, as we shall see, this life situation
serves to enhance the message we bring, not detract from it. Once real in
Christ, you can't become ugly or unreal again. [Quiet Time SB]

While it is our duty to seek for perfection in outward things, it should
ever be kept in mind that this aim is not to be made supreme. It must be
held subordinate to higher interests. Above the seen and transitory, God
values the unseen and eternal. The former is of worth only as it expresses
the latter. 7T143

In heaven God is all in all. There holiness reigns supreme; there is nothing
to mar the perfect harmony with God. If we are indeed journeying thither,
the spirit of heaven will dwell in our hearts here. But if we find no
pleasure now in the contemplation of heavenly things; if we have no interest
in seeking the knowledge of God, no delight in beholding the character of
Christ; if holiness has no attractions for us-- then we may be sure that our
hope of heaven is vain. 5T745

Whatever Christ asks us to renounce, He offers in its stead something
better. ED296,7

To honor Christ, to become like Him, to work for Him, is the life's highest
ambition and its greatest joy.  ED296,7