Look Beyond the Things You See!
GOOD physical eyesight is a blessing. In fact, most people would say that few things they possess are more precious. For Christians, however, there is a kind of eyesight spoken of by the apostle Paul that is of greater value than even good physical eyesight. “We keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen,” wrote Paul. (2 Corinthians 4:18) It must be a very special kind of vision indeed that enables one to see things that are unseen! We might call it 20/20 vision of a spiritual kind.
Why the Need?
Christians of the first century were in real need of having this kind of spiritual eyesight. They were carrying out their Christian ministry under much hardship. Paul put it this way: “We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not left in the lurch; we are thrown down, but not destroyed.”—2 Corinthians 4:8, 9.
In spite of such circumstances, the faithful disciples stood firm. With strong faith in God, they could say as Paul did: “We do not give up, but even if the man we are outside is wasting away, certainly the man we are inside is being renewed from day to day.” What, though, brought about this daily renewal? Paul went on to say: “For though the tribulation is momentary and light, it works out for us a glory that is of more and more surpassing weight and is everlasting; while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.”—2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
Paul was encouraging his spiritual brothers not to allow problems, difficulties, persecutions—tribulations of whatever nature—to cloud their view of the glorious reward that had been set before them. They should look beyond their present circumstances, keeping their eyes fixed on the happy outcome of the Christian course. That was what helped them to renew on a daily basis their resolve to press on in the battle. Christians today are equally in need of having such good spiritual eyesight.
View Present Tribulations as Momentary!
Like it or not, we daily see things we would prefer not to see. A glance into the mirror and we cannot help but notice the undesirable spots and blemishes of the physical body, indications of physical imperfection. When we peer into the mirror of God’s Word, we see spiritual flaws and blemishes, both in ourselves and in others. (James 1:22-25) And when we look at the daily newspaper or the television screen, accounts of injustice, cruelty, and tragedy leap out to tug at our heartstrings.
Satan would like to cause us to despair because of the things we see or to become sidetracked and begin to waver in faith. How can we prevent this from happening? We must follow the example set by Jesus Christ, as recommended by the apostle Peter when he said: “In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) In every aspect of Christian living, Jesus was the perfect example.
In pointing to Jesus as our model, Peter particularly mentioned that Jesus suffered. Indeed, Jesus suffered a great deal when on earth. As Jehovah’s “master worker” present at mankind’s creation, he knew exactly what God intended humans to be. (Proverbs 8:30, 31) But now he saw firsthand what sin and imperfection had caused them to become. Daily he saw and had to deal with people’s imperfections and weaknesses. That must have been trialsome for him.—Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34.
Besides the tribulations of others, Jesus also saw his own. (Hebrews 5:7, 8) But with perfect spiritual eyesight, he looked beyond them to see the reward of being elevated to immortal life for his course of integrity. Then as Messianic King, he would have the privilege of lifting afflicted humankind out of its debased condition back to the perfection Jehovah had originally purposed. Keeping his eye focused on these invisible future prospects helped him maintain joy in godly service despite the tribulations he saw from day to day. Paul later wrote: “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”—Hebrews 12:2.
Jesus never allowed the hardships and trialsome circumstances to cause him to despair, to become sidetracked, or to waver in his faith. As his disciples, we must follow his sterling example closely.—Matthew 16:24.
Focus on Invisible Everlasting Things!
In speaking about what enabled Jesus to endure, Paul also pointed out the course for us when he wrote: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:1, 2) Yes, to run the Christian course successfully and joyfully, we must look beyond the things immediately before us. But how do we “look intently” at Jesus, and what will it do for us?
For one thing, in 1914, Jesus was installed as King of God’s Kingdom, and he rules from heaven. All of this, of course, is invisible to our physical eyes. Yet, if we “look intently” at Jesus, our spiritual eyesight will help us to see that he is now poised to take action to bring about the end of the present wicked system of things and the banishment of Satan and his demonic hordes into bonds of inactivity. Looking still further, our spiritual vision will reveal the wonderful new world in which “death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 19:11-16; 20:1-3; 21:4.
So, then, instead of being burdened down by the temporary tribulations we may have to face each day, why not focus our gaze upon the things that are eternal? With eyes of faith, why not look beyond the sickness and the greed on this polluted earth to see a paradise filled with healthy, happy, and caring people? Why not look beyond our blemishes, both physical and spiritual, and see ourselves freed of them forever by the merit of Christ’s ransom sacrifice? Why not look beyond the carnage left behind by war, crime, and violence and see newly resurrected ones being instructed in the peace and righteousness of Jehovah?
In addition, to “look intently” at Jesus would also include focusing our spiritual eyesight on what the Kingdom, though invisible, has already accomplished among God’s people on earth: unity, peace, love, brotherly affection, and spiritual prosperity. One Christian woman in Germany, after seeing the video United by Divine Teaching, wrote: “The video will help me increasingly to keep in mind that so many Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world are at this very moment loyally serving Jehovah—and this despite public reaction. How precious is our brotherly unity in a world of violence and hatred!”
Do you too “see” Jehovah, Jesus, the faithful angels, and millions of fellow Christians standing at your side? If so, you will not become overly concerned with “the anxiety of this system of things” that could bog you down in discouragement and cause you to become “unfruitful” in Christian service. (Matthew 13:22) So “look intently” at Jesus by focusing your spiritual eyes on God’s established Kingdom and its blessings, both present and future.
Live to See What Is Invisible!
Seeing the sharp contrast between God’s eternal new world and today’s crumbling old world, we should be moved to conduct ourselves in such a way that we will be counted worthy to live to see literally the things we can see only through eyes of faith today. Multitudes of resurrected ones will scarcely believe their eyes when they awaken to see a righteous paradise earth so different from the world they saw before they died. Imagine our joy at being alive to greet them and to explain to them what God has done!—Compare Joel 2:21-27.
Yes, how precious good spiritual eyesight is, and how vital to keep it sharp! This we can do by regularly engaging in personal Bible study, attending Christian meetings, speaking to others about our Bible-based hope, and above all, praying for divine guidance. This will keep our spiritual vision sharp and clear, enabling us to look beyond the things we see!