Going Home (Part 2)

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:4-10 ESV).

Today we will continue to look at not losing heart in our journey because we are going home. The question we must answer is, “Why doesn’t Paul lose heart? The first part of the answer is again in our reading from yesterday. Paul says, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). He doesn’t lose heart because day by day his heart, his inner man, is being renewed. If his decaying body tends to make him lose heart, something else tends to make him gain heart.

The apostle’s renewed heart comes from something very strange; it comes from looking at what he can’t see. He goes on to say, “We 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” (v. 18). Paul’s way of not losing heart is by looking at what he can’t see.

Recall how Jesus criticized the religious leaders in his day: “Seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear” (cf. Matthew 13:13). In other words there was something to “see” in Jesus’ life and teaching which they didn’t see but should have seen. That has got to be reversed if we are to get our hope and our courage from Jesus and not lose heart. It has to be said of us, “Not seeing, they see; and not hearing, they hear.” That’s what Paul was doing in verse 18; he was looking at things that are not seen. Paul illustrates this in chapter 5, verse 7: “We walk by faith, not by sight.” This doesn’t mean that we leap into the dark without evidence of what’s there. But it does mean that the most precious and important realities in the world are beyond our senses now, and we “look” at them (v. 18) through what we know of Christ from faithful witnesses who have seen him and heard his voice. We strengthen our hearts, we renew our courage, by fixing the gaze of our hearts on invisible, objective truth that we learn about through the testimony of those who knew Christ and were taught by him (cf. Ephesians 1:18-23). Do you best to focus on “there” more than “here” for encouragement to continue in your journey.