Focusing on Spiritual Realities to Find Spiritual Renewal and Productivity.

The world's allurements and performance-based external religion distract us from Gospel productivity. Paul instructs the Corinthians to enjoy working together in Gospel living and focus on their confident hope so they will avoid distraction, find renewal, and keep being spiritually productive.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 echoes 4:1 when it says “Therefore we do not lose heart.” Paul reviews three spiritual realities to help his audience keep an eternal focus.

Personal Spiritual Compensation (verse 16)

Jesus had made clear in Luke 18:1 that losing heart can cause us to give way to temptation. Paul has already written much in this letter to encourage his readers: they have the treasure of salvation, the promise of a resurrection, and a testimony that is spreading. They are being “renewed,” made brand new each day. Both decay and renewal are happening at the same time to the believer’s person. The aches and pains of sin fade as we grow in our relationship with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:14-17).

Personal Spiritual Motivation (verse 17)

There is something of much more grand value than our earthly experience: an eternal glory beyond comparison to our present life. The Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is constantly producing this otherworldly glory (Romans 8:18, Colossians 1:3-5). This is the “life” Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 4:12. He similarly spoke of the fellowship we have with Christ in sharing in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1ff tells what else is part of this experience: we share Christ’s glory, the hope of a new body, a mind and heart clean from sin, and the position of co-heirs with Him. The word Paul uses for “weight” describes a burden that is unbearable to carry. We can only bear it with the Holy Spirit indwelling us!

Personal Spiritual Realization (verse 18)

“When we ask the present to give us what only eternity can give, we end up driven, frustrated, discouraged, and ultimately hopeless.”

Paul ends the chapter with what the believer should be focused on. The word “look” means to ponder, to sincerely consider. We must use our time to meditate on what has eternal value. Things of this temporal world will not last (2 Peter 3:7-13). The unseen is what is real. We must fix our eyes on the Kingdom to come and the Savior who will reign (John 14:1-6, Hebrews 11:10-16, 27). This should make us the most joyful, optimistic people on earth!

Application Points

  • Where is your gaze lately? What has discouraged you? Temporary earthly distractions put a chokehold on spiritual productivity. If you have found this to be true in your life, it’s time to refocus on your personal spiritual motivation. As Martin Luther said, we can find out all we need to know about the world from the Bible. Spend more time meditating there than you do absorbing the news.

  • Faithful people ponder things of eternal value. What do you ponder? Get your eyes off what discourages you. Don’t even be distracted by good things. Focus on Christ and His Kingdom. Then you will know renewal, joy, and spiritual productivity.

A Hymn to Encourage: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly pow’rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.