4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Check out the Global Cosmetic Surgery and Service Market Report 2015 - 2019 and you will find the latest details and developments in an exploding industry as well as forecasts for future growth. You will also find that America, the supposed home base of Bible based Christianity is by far the leading consumer in the cosmetic surgery industry.
Ironic isn't it? Now while cosmetic surgery was the furthest thing from Paul's mind and hardly the focus of what I see in this passage it does underline a glaring point. We are obsessed with what we appear to be. Imagine if we were as concerned with who we truly are? Imagine if we spent an equal amount of time, effort, and money caring for what is inside us. It's not just cosmetics either. We are bombarded with advice on how to prepare for our financial future, how to be secure, how to get and stay healthy etc... but all the advice is focused on the here and now. Don't get me wrong. Caring about our appearance is a good thing, as is our financial health, physical health etc... but what does any of it matter if who we are is selfish, rotten, and mean? What if it is said about us "he/she ain't pretty, they just look that way"?
Paul had a whole different take on life. He was in prison as much as he was out. We know he knew what a mirror was (1 Cor. 13) but we also know he didn't spend enough time looking in one to even remember what he looked like. He may have had a home but he was rarely if ever there. He did work as necessary to gain a living but it was by far his secondary concern. I'm certain the rigorous travel, the beatings, the erratic lifestyle was taking a toll on his health. He summed it all up by saying "our outward man is perishing..."
Paul was treating his life like a well used car that was going to be flogged until there was nothing left and then sent to the wreckers. Why? Because the passion of his life was the development of the inner man. He knew that walking in the footsteps of Jesus would not land him in GQ. He knew it wouldn't set him up for a cushy retirement or even a stellar medical report. However his character was flourishing. Every day he mattered less and others mattered more. Every day he thought less about the here and now and longed more for home. He like Abraham was a pilgrim and a stranger here. The only thing he was taking Home with him was his character so he invested there.
How about us? Are we invested and continuing to invest in the temporary or are our eyes and heart fixed on the Eternal?