2 Corinthians 4:18
While 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…
To be a Christian you must look at the things "unseen and eternal"; to continue to be a Christian you must habitually regard them. Paul was a converted, i.e., a turned man. Before his conversion he looked one way, after he looked quite in the opposite direction. Two facts, then, are plain — first, the habit of the worldly mind is to "look at things seen and temporal," and second, the Christian habit of mind is to "look at things unseen and eternal." In a time of persecution, it is said that seven Christian youths of Ephesus found refuge in a cave. They slept for two hundred years, till "kings had become nursing fathers to the Church." When they awoke they entered the city cautiously, inquiring if there were any Christians there. "Christians!" was the reply; "yes, we are all Christians here." On one side they were pointed to a splendid dome with a golden cross; on another to schools where Christianity was taught. No longer the rack, the stake, the sword. Further inquiries, however, grieved them. They learned that as Christianity prospered, it had become worldly and corrupt. "You have shown us," said they, "something but little better than you were before; where, after all, are the Christians?" In great sorrow they returned to their cave, and God removed them to heaven. Note —
I. THE TENDENCY TO LOOK AT TEMPORAL THINGS MAINLY. How accounted for.
1. The natural difficulty of fixing attention upon spiritual and heavenly things. "Out of sight, out of mind." Yet we must not allow too much to this adage. Things unseen may and do powerfully affect us, e.g., stars to the astronomical student, even when out of sight, are present to his mind; an absent friend, a loved one in heaven. Why then forget God and eternity?
2. Moral indisposition. It comes of unbelief. Many banish thoughts of the eternal us intrusive.
3. Procrastination. Temporal concerns are termed "business," as though they only deserved attention, and higher things might be deferred to leisure moments. Men have their premises insured, but alas! in reference to eternity they seek no insurance.
4. The blinding power of sinful habits. He who is confirmed in any sinful habit is rendering himself less inclined to and less capable of religious thought. The man is of the earth, earthy. His soul comes into no affinity with spiritual things.
II. THE CHRISTIAN HABIT OF LOOKING AT "THINGS UNSEEN AND ETERNAL."
1. It is not an occasional impulse; it is a habit. His eye rests on those things that have the stamp of endurance. Young Christians must not be discouraged if the habit is not rapidly formed. The albatross has to skim at first on the surface of the water, but once risen, it soars till its extended wings are almost invisible.
2. The benefits of this habit.
(1) It will lift us up above a base and worldly life. Spiritual dignity attaches to that man's character whose "citizenship is in heaven."(2) It will afford comfort in changes and adversities. Paul realised this consolation, for he felt affliction to be but "light and for a moment." The same pole-star will guide us if we look up to it. See the pilot in the tempest at night. He keeps his eye on the light of the harbour. He does not look at the surging waves as they strike on the rocky coast, but he looks to the light till he passes safely into "the desired haven." In severe trial there is no other talisman than looking to "things unseen and eternal."(3) It will prepare us for death. Christians form the habit of looking forward with expectancy to the change from mortality to a blissful immortality.
(D. Fraser, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: While 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.