How Can We Have an Eternal Mindset Here on Earth? 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Lately, I have been thinking a whole lot about delayed gratification.

As in, doing now, in the immediate what will hopefully, if correctly planned for will pay off later, versus what only feels good or is easy in the exact moment.

It’s a great concept, right?

Living with an eye on the future, and planning and making choices that will result in a positive outcome a few months or even years down the road (while also avoiding a negative outcome).

But, that kind of advanced planning is not always so very simple to do.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 English Standard Version

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

Lately, I have been thinking a whole lot about delayed gratification.

As in, doing now, in the immediate what will hopefully, if correctly planned for will pay off later, versus what only feels good or is easy in the exact moment.

It’s a great concept, right?

Living with an eye on the future, and planning and making choices that will result in a positive outcome a few months or even years down the road (while also avoiding a negative outcome).

But, that kind of advanced planning is not always so very simple to do.

For example,

I’ve been trying for quite a while to control my stubborn blood sugar.

I know that the key is to keep my eye on the prize, and remember that what I do today will affect how I feel (how well me and my body will function) tomorrow.

It’s not easy, but that’s what I need to remember!

Because otherwise, what’s to keep me from just binging on chocolate lava cakes all day on my birthday, with zero regard to the outcome on my bodily systems?

Likewise, we should have the same thought process with regards to eternity (that is, life after death).

We focus so very much on the here and now—this short life on earth—and yet eternity is so much longer!

But because it always seems to be so far off, it’s easier put it on the back burner…as in, “I’ll worry about that later. Today, I have too much to do!”

Except, that time and place called eternity – It’s not that far off though, is it?

Not one of us knows exactly how long we will live, or when Jesus will return, or anything that the future holds.

How Do I Set My Mind On Things Above?

But, you might ask, what does it actually mean to actually have an eternal perspective?

And how do we do that?

I think it boils down to the HOPE of heaven.

In this life, even the seemingly wonderful things (like money or fame), will eventually lead to a grave full of freezing cold emptiness.

God is all about LOVE … so if we want to discipline ourselves to focus on having an eternal perspective, we have to focus on the God who is Love (1 John 4:7-11).

What is an eternal mindset?

And is this something we can, or should, have while living here on this earth?

This devotional effort will explore these two questions, as well as how we can develop an eternal mindset.

What Is an Eternal Mindset?

Merriam-Webster defines mindset as “a mental attitude or inclination.”

It is what we think about something or what our attitude is regarding it.

I have a particular financial and political mindset, an environmental mindset, a brother and sister mindset, a husband and a step parent/grandparent mindset, and many more – and all of those mindsets are all reflected in how I live my life.

Eternal is a word used in a few different ways in the Scripture.

Most commonly, it is part of the expression “eternal life.”

We often think of this as life without end, and it does involve that.

But Jesus defines eternal life as a relationship.

It is knowing God the Father and Jesus his Son (John 17:3).

But here in 2 Corinthians 4:18, Paul uses the word in a very different sense.

He tells us, “What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Eternal has the connotation of unending existence.

But it is infinitely more than that.

Here Paul is referring to the unseen realm.

What is unseen is eternal, while what we can see with our earthly eyes is only temporary.

This verse is key to understanding what an eternal mindset is.

The whole verse says, “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.”

An eternal mindset is a mind focused on the unseen realm, on things above rather than on the outward and subject to rust temporary things of this life.

It is a mindset that understands the physical world is not all there is.

There is a greater reality that is unknowable to our human senses.

This greater reality, particularly the kingdom of God, is revealed to us in the Scripture and seen through the eyes of faith.

Hebrews 11:1-3 English Standard Version

By Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

An eternal mindset keeps the kingdom of God front and center in all one does.

Is This Something That We Should Have?

So, is having an eternal mindset something that is expected of all believers?

The passage quoted above from 2 Corinthians 4:18 answers this question in the affirmative.

Apostle Paul expressed that his eyes were fixed on the unseen, the eternal.

Paul used inclusive terminology in this verse: “we fix our eyes.”

The implication is that this should be true for all believers, not just a select few.

This is reinforced by passages like Colossians 3:1-2, where we are told to set our hearts and minds on things above.

Put On the New Self

3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

In Hebrews 3:1-2, we are told to fix our thoughts on Jesus.

Jesus Greater Than Moses

3 Therefore, holy brothers,[a] you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s[b] house.

And Hebrews 12:1-2, where we are instructed to fix our eyes on Jesus.

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,  who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

This is not something we are to do only on Sunday mornings, but we should all learn to discipline ourselves to focus our lives on Jesus and things above the rest of the days, weeks months, regardless of where we are and what we are doing.

In 1 Corinthians 7:29-31,

29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

Paul tells us that the time is short, and this world is passing away.

So, even as we live in this world, we should not be engrossed in it.

Live in the now.

But keep your hope fixed on what lies ahead, on the eternal.

Don’t let your activities here distract you from the eternal.

What Does an Eternal Mindset Look Like?

We often call the eleventh chapter of Hebrews the Hall of Faith.

This chapter recalls many people from the Old Testament who, by faith, did something extraordinary with their lives which called the author to write it

But this is more than just a roll call of people who lived by faith.

Hebrews 11:9-10 says of Abraham, “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

Hebrews 11:13-16 develops this idea further, showing that these people acted in faith because they looked forward to something beyond this life.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

They each had a mindset that was disciplined and focused upon the life that awaited them beyond the grave, an eternal mindset.

Peter also identifies us as foreigners in this world (1 Peter 1:17; 2:11) and urges us to live that way.

We should never forget our citizenship is as members of the kingdom of God.

While we live in this world, we are to be distinct from it.

Living, not solely to satisfy our temporary desires, but living in a much more disciplined way that will please our heavenly Father.

But this does not mean that we ignore the world we live in, being so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good.

We still need to work to support ourselves and our families.

We need to care for what God has blessed us with.

We need to relate to the people around us.

And we should be looking to make this world a better place.

But while we do those things, we should always keep sight of whose we are and the future God has prepared for us.

Living a life of faith, trusting God to care for us and bring us safely to that heavenly city without foundations that Abraham was looking forward to.

Our time here is short.

And as we live here, we should hold loosely to the things of this world.

Using them, but not placing great value on them (1 Corinthians 7:31).

Our security should not be in our possessions or any earthly institution.

Instead, it should be in the Lord who is preparing us for our eternal home.

We should also not become overwhelmingly discouraged when life gets hard, or the world seems to be steadily descending into the abysses of chaos and evil.

Instead, trust God with your life (Philippians 4:6-7) and seek to live a holy life (1 Peter 1:15-16) of love (1 John 4:10-11).

How Can We Develop an Eternal Mindset?

The Scripture teaches us that an eternal mindset is appropriate for all believers.

But what does it take to develop a mindset that looks into the future rather than being wrapped up in the subject to rust temporary things of this life?

Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14 can help us with this.

Straining Toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

He expressed that he had not yet reached his goal of Christlikeness, but he was straining and striving toward that.

He was not living in the past.

Instead, he was “straining toward what was ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God had called him heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

There are three aspects to what Paul has to say here.

First, he had a goal.

His goal was to become like Christ.

If we want to develop an eternal mindset, it needs to be our primary goal.

It will not happen by accident.

Nor can your goal be just a wish.

It needs to be something that we will actively pursue.

Second, we need to let go of anything that would interfere with reaching that goal.

For Paul, that was thoroughly giving up, surrendering the past, his heritage, training, accomplishments, and plans for what he originally wanted to become.

We each may have different things we need to leave in our past, things that hold us back – but whatever it may be, we need to make the sacrifice, leave it behind.

And finally, Paul was striving toward his goal.

He knew what he wanted to become.

And he was working at it with all that he was.

I will not develop an eternal mindset just by wishing for it.

Nor by investing a only a few hours a week.

It is a commitment of your whole life in pursuit of the goal.

That includes a commitment to spending time reading the Bible and making its teaching a part of your life.

Time should also be spent in prayer and communion with our heavenly Father, in fellowship with other believers, actively involved in the life of a local church.

These disciplines should take highest priority over many of the activities we might otherwise be engaged in.

Rabbi Jesus illustrates this for us with his parable of the pearl of great price in 

Matthew 13:45-46.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Here a merchant sold everything he had to purchase a pearl of great value.

He gave up all he had to have this pearl.

And that is what we need to do.

Give up everything we have to obtain the life that God has called us to.

The development of an eternal mindset is something that we can only do with the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church in Ephesians 1:17-19 might be considered a prayer for an eternal mindset:

having spiritual eyes open to the hope we have in Christ, recognizing God’s inheritance in the saints, and knowing his power at work for us who believe.

Benefits of Keeping an Eternal Mindset

For me, it was a strong desire to be assured a place in heaven, that first led me to repentance and a relationship with Jesus. (Okay, fear of judgement and not wanting to go to hell might be more accurate).

In the years since, I have tasted and seen that God is good (Psalm 34:8),

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

and I’ve lived the blessings of developing an eternal perspective on life.

But still, it’s not always easy to keep up that eternal mindset in the face of distractions and shiny things of this world!

However, it’s so worth it.

Let’s explore just a few benefits of fixing our eyes on the “prize” of heaven…

1) Eternity Reminds Us To Seek God’s Kingdom FIRST.

First and foremost, an eternal mindset will help us to keep the #1 thing the #1 thing.

And that #1 thing is God’s kingdom—specifically, Jesus’ charge to us, to share the good news.

While we look forward to eternity, we know there are still many people who don’t know Jesus, and thus do not have that same hope.

We need to keep a kingdom mindset, and to share the hope we have in Jesus.

1 Peter 3:14-16English Standard Version

14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16  having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

2) Eternity Helps Us Weather The Storms Of Life!

In the midst of trials, the thought of spending eternity with God (where there will be no more tears, pain, or death—Revelation 21:4), makes our struggles seem much smaller.

This life may sometimes seem long and full of pain, but it’s just a blip on the radar on comparison to eternity.

It really does help to set your mind on Jesus!

After all, it was Jesus who said this: “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

3) Eternity Causes Us To Focus On Things That Really Matter.

Loving God, and loving our neighbors… Celebrating God and celebrating our neighbors – it’s what we did in LOVE that we will all carry with us into eternity (and, that will prayerfully stay with our loved ones who are still on earth too).

In the context of eternity and building up treasures of love, does that argument really matter?

Is it really important to gain promotions, if it takes us away from our family?

I could go on, but I believe you get the idea.

4) Eternity Causes Us To Invest In Heavenly Things!

Like a 5-year-old kid who you’re already saving for college for, and a 12-year-old already thinking about scholarships and GPA’s, it’s good to consider life as prep school for heaven.

How are we investing our time and our talents today?

Just imagine, when you get to heaven, you meet all the people you led to Jesus, all the folks who were hungry and you gave them a meal and something to drink or if you are a teacher all the students you taught, or the people you encouraged.

The people and purposes you choose to invest in MATTER.

Every day we should strive to discipline ourselves to remember, that the things of this world are like cheap baubles: they look amazing at first, but after a while, the glitter will gradually flake off, rhinestones fall out, they’ll lose their luster.

In contrast, eternal things are like real diamonds and gold. 

By keeping an eternal mindset, we can store up for ourselves our treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), and along the long concourse of our lives, prevent ourselves from being continually deceived by the false lure of earthly things.

Being heavenly-minded makes a person more mindful and fruitful for Christ and provides a place of peace for self and others amid the chaos of the world.

Those who are disciplined and focused on eternity are significantly far more impactful for Christ than those who get caught up in the things of the world.

In the name of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Father God, it is too easy to get caught up in the baubles of mundane of natural living. Sometimes we only see what is around the next corner. We need the Holy Spirit to lift our perspective so we can see things from heaven’s perspective. Thy Holy Spirit reminds us of the long view. Ultimately, we in faith believe that Jesus will one day return in triumph and the victory will be totally ours. Let this prayer reminds us of this immutable truth and let us ask thy Holy Spirit to calibrate and recalibrate our perspective. If this prayer ministers to you, then please share it with all your friends.

Intercessory Holy Spirit, I pray you will set my mind on heavenly things and help me to see more from a heavenly perspective than an earthly one. This should be natural for a person that is living in God by living in Christ. You are teaching me to rule and reign with my Savior and King Jesus. One day I will appear with Him in the sky. Prepare me for that day now. Develop the mindset of heaven in me in Jesus name,

Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

One thought on “How Can We Have an Eternal Mindset Here on Earth? 2 Corinthians 4:16-18”

  1. I am very happy to have read this dissertation because of it’s content and thoroughness. I am truly inspired to reevaluate my life goals leaning towards a more Spiritual mindset. Thank you for your Spiritual insights. 📖


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