2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;…
I. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE APOSTLE TEACHES CHRISTIANS TO VIEW THEIR AFFLICTIONS.
1. We are apt to magnify our troubles rather than to diminish them. In the human mind there is a strong aversion to trouble of any kind. It is indeed true that affliction, in itself, is not agreeable. "Now no affliction for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous." But here the apostle makes it out to be a very insignificant thing. You think it heavy — a burden greater than you can bear, but the apostle says that it is light. And, besides, you think the time of your affliction long, however short it may be, and anxiously desire its removal; but the apostle wishes you to view it even as momentary. But Paul is here speaking comparatively. His eye was full of an exceeding weight of glory which language could not express; in comparison to that his affliction was levity itself, and by faith he saw the eternity of that glory, and then it seemed contracted into a point that was invisible.
2. You cannot feel sympathy with the apostle, in this exalted view of affliction, if you remain on the low ground of this world, where you are involved in darkness. You must aspire to attain the height of the subject. You must endeavour, in some measure, to comprehend the glory to be revealed.
II. THE INFLUENCE OF AFFLICTION IN PREPARING CHRISTIANS FOR FUTURE GLORY. "Worketh for us." Affliction is part of the discipline of the covenant of grace; and it worketh the peaceable fruit of righteousness in all who are properly exercised under it.
1. Afflictions work in Christians a meetness or suitableness for glory. Naturally they are unprepared, and corruption is strong within them. But afflictions weaken the power of corruption. The mind of the Christian may be unduly set upon worldly objects. These are removed, and then the Christian seeks his enjoyment in God, and raises his mind to heaven.
2. In proportion to the extent of the affliction of Christians will be their future glory. All that you can do or suffer for Christ, in itself, is without merit, but yet it will be rewarded.
III. WHAT THIS GLORY IS. Who can describe the greatness of things eternal? We can only judge from what we see; and it must be confessed that in the visible universe there is much that impresses us with the greatness and the power of God. But we must beware of losing ourselves in generalities. We are not destitute of definite ideas on which to fix our minds.
1. This is an exceeding weight of glory; it will, in its very nature, be substantial, weighty, solid. Now this forms a striking contrast to the objects of the world, even the weightiest and most important of them. But men consider wealth weighty. It is, however, all a mistake, "for riches make to themselves wings." All the riches of this world are, in comparison, less than nothing and vanity.
2. This is such a weight of glory that Christians could not sustain it if they were not prepared and strengthened by Omnipotence to do it. Even in the world men are not always able to sustain their circumstances. Some sink under the load of affliction, prosperity. Now to bear up under this weight of glory it is necessary that the soul of the Christian should be absolutely perfect, completely delivered from sin; and at the last day, when there will be a vast accession to the glory, a body fashioned like unto Christ's will be necessary: thus the soul and body of the Christian will not only be adapted to each other, but they will also be adapted to the glory which is to be bestowed upon them. At the present time you could not bear this glory.
3. And what will it be? It will be all the fulness of the Deity — all the glory of God in Christ.
(1) You will be blessed with all knowledge; all mysteries, in nature, providence, and grace, will shine out clearly in your view.
(2) Immense dignity will be conferred upon us; in the presence of the greatest spirits you will be honoured by God Himself, and will be exalted to sit on the throne of Christ.
(3) Your happiness will be complete; you will experience the fulness of joy.
(4) Add to all, it will be eternal, unlike the glories of the world, which are evanescent. Now, with this prospect, will not Christians welcome all their affliction?
Parallel VersesKJV: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;