Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

June 2, 2011

Temporary vs. eternal, the seen vs. the unseen

Dr. Sam Smith, Guest columnist
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

(2 Corinthians 4:18)



Temporary versus eternal, there is a vast difference between the two.  The way we process the difference can determine the level of peace and contentment in a Christian’s life.  Exert most of our focus on the temporary and we struggle to find contentment.  Focus on the eternal and we can feel a great burden lift from our shoulders.

To allow the eternal to give us peace requires a measure of effort.  It is easy to allow the temporary – the day in and day out – to consume all of our energy and effort.  Our job (temporary) requires much attention.  Our physical bodies (temporary) need constant maintenance.  The state of our finances (temporary) causes our emotions to fluctuate mercilessly at times.  Plenty of dough, we’re up.  Not enough dough, we are down. Keeping up with our material stuff requires much attention.  The temporary, physical aspect of life can be a hard taskmaster, if we let it.

Fortunately, we can choose to find peace and contentment by turning our thoughts to the eternal.  The eternal (heaven, everlasting life, joy, peace, angels) is promised to faithful followers of Jesus Christ.  There will come a day when we will realize that the stressful, worried hours we spent on the temporary were a waste of time.  As C. S. Lewis observed, "All that is not eternal is eternally useless."

Now wait a minute, Sam.  You really don’t believe that we can turn our focus away from our work and home and stuff, do you?  

Maybe not, but we can learn balance.  And we can learn to replace the stressful, worrying, distracting thoughts concerning the temporary with peaceful, contented, joyous thoughts about the eternal.



“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 10:5)



Not easy, I agree, but possible.  If the Lord told us to do it, it is doable.  When the load gets too heavy due to worry about the physical plane (the seen) we can lighten the load by dwelling on the spiritual plane (the unseen).   We must allow the Holy Spirit to enable us to see through the eyes of faith.



“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

(Hebrews 11:1 NLT)



In 2 Kings 6:17, we read about the servant whose eyes were opened to see the unseen.



“And Elisha prayed, ‘O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”



There is so much going on around us that most of us never see with our physical eyes, but through faith we can believe that they are as real as anything we see with our physical eyes.  And those things we cannot see are not hindered in any way by time or space. It is those things, those eternal, supernatural things that will carry us through eternity.  We must walk through this temporary life with some measure of attention to physical details.  But we must never allow them to overshadow the beautiful, magnificent, glorious eternal unseen blessings from God Almighty.  And maybe, just maybe, every now and then the Lord will open our eyes and give us a glimpse of the eternal glory that surrounds us all.  Even if He doesn’t, looking for it is good spiritual exercise.



Dr. Sam Smith,

Butterfly Ministry,

ssmithkate@aol.com