Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
2 Corinthians 5:1-10:
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened--not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
From where does your comfort come? What gives you consolation in the midst of desolation? How do you know that you have "a building from God, a house not made with hands?"
There are many that look to outward appearances to be comforted. It's up to the fruit produced by their visible lives to convince them that God's promises apply to them--that they are elect, and an heir of salvation. But appearances are deceiving.
On the one hand, if we compare the fruit of our lives to the fruit that others are producing, we will always be able to find less productive examples that make us feel pretty good: "Hey, at least I'm not like __________." But on the other hand, the abundance of visible fruit that others produce might make us doubt our faith or, worse, question God's promises.
What honest Christian, at the end of the day, can look back at his or her actions and be ready to bring that fruit to the judgment seat of Christ. Who desires to receive what is due to him or her based on your visible fruit? But appearances are deceiving.
St. Paul writes that "we walk by faith, not by sight." When we take comfort in outward appearances, in the fruit of faith, our comfort is temporary at best, and more than likely, will lead to despair. Our appearances will always deceive us, and try to rob us of the comfort of God's simple Word.
We groan while we are in this tent because this tent fails to convince us, to comfort us. And yet, one who appeared as a meek and humble servant, was in actuality the living God himself. On the cross, while all hope appears to be lost, and Satan appears to have finally succeeded in defeating the hope of the nations, we learn that appearances are deceiving indeed. Jesus' body suffered and died. And the visible fruit of Jesus' life appeared to be, well, meaningless.
But then he came out of the tomb--alive and gloriously living!
Be comforted by the promises of God. Jesus was raised from the dead so that all who are baptized into Him will experience that same glorious appearing. Even as you see the convicting evidence that Satan holds before your eyes, look to the promises of God, for He has declared you righteous for the sake of Christ.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.