So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV)
The apostle reveals a thought-altering principle here, that the Christian life is not dependent on what happens to us in the physical or material realm. We live by another principle, a spiritual one, and though outwardly we are wasting away – we all are in decline physically by our mid-thirties – we are never in decline spiritually. Rather we go from “strength to strength” in the Lord Jesus (Psalm 84:7).
The attitude of a pilgrim, that was so beautifully described in Psalm 84, is the attitude of the Christian. We are on a pilgrimage, not merely a journey but a purposeful journey and we should keep our eyes set on the goal. We do not lose heart because we know the outcome of our faith, the result of God’s grace to us in Christ Jesus. The psalmist wrote:
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion. (Psalm 84:5-7 ESV)
Certainly there are difficult moments we experience here, setbacks, sometimes severe ones, that may dampen our spirits. But through the eye of faith we can overcome all of these and look to see what God is doing within us each day. Jeremiah the prophet wrote:
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:19-24 ESV)
This is the song of the believer – the mercies of God are new every morning and God is at work in our lives each day. Though outwardly we decline, spiritually and inwardly we continue to grow by God’s grace and mercy. Our hearts should be continually set on Him, valuing His love and grace above all in life, knowing Him personally and enjoying that relationship.
For some Christians, the Christian life is about receiving the material blessings of God. For others, it is about having friends in the Lord, or receiving the social blessings of God. For others, it is about receiving recognition and respect as leaders in the church. These are merely the minor blessings associated with the Christian faith – and we could add many more to these.
But the heart of the Christian life is to receive the new life of Christ, to know God through Christ, to rejoice in our new relationship and in His grace to us, and to let Him renew us inwardly each day. Friends, blessings, respect – all of these are good things, but they are not the main thing. The main thing is knowing God through Christ and receiving His life.
Let this be your focus today.