As I read this phrase, I thought of the children of Israel as they left Egypt. Their goal was the Promised Land, but they kept looking back at their life in Egypt. Even after God had provided everything they needed — food, protection and guidance — the vision and the promise seemed to always elude them. Looking back, they said, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic:” (Numbers 11:5 KJV). They just kept looking backward.
Jesus said in Luke 9:62 (KJV), “No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Faith is demonstrated by the actions it generates. You can tell what a person believes by how he lives.
James said it this way: “... shew me thy faith without the works and I will shew thee my faith by my works” James 2:18. Paraphrased in the Living Bible. “... anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” The New International Version says the same thing: “... I will show you my faith by what I do.”
The attitude determines the perspective. In “working for God,” people can find themselves busy with many good things — heading youth programs, raising money for missions, cooking for and serving the homeless, driving the Sunday school bus ... and the list goes on and on. And it all can “busy” the life out of us. And as long as a person is only recognizing what he is doing, he doesn’t see what is ahead — where he should be going. It’s like riding in the back of a pickup truck. The rider only sees where he’s been, and not where’s he’s headed.
Such was the case with the church at Thessalonica. False teachers had misguided some good people. Paul, in his first letter to the church, commended it for the good works and good reputation.
In the second letter less than a year later, he had to correct a few things. Not that he didn’t commend the people for the good things he heard about them, such as their patience and faith. The letter began with assurance, even to holding the church up as a model.
Paul reminded the people of the basics: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2). “Let no man deceive you by any means,” Paul said as he began to remind them of what he had taught them — “Remember ye not ...?”
If a person if “rowing” out to sea, spiritually speaking, he will be more concerned with pleasing God than with fitting in this present world. It’s a matter of priorities. How can a person say he’s looking toward the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ if all his efforts and thoughts are aimed at making himself comfortable in the present?
God has given us promises and prophecies. And neither does he promise anything he doesn't fulfill. And our lives will tell the world if we believe Him or not.
Only those who wholly follow the Lord in faith are able to claim His promises. There is no strength in unbelief. We can count on God for his goodness and faithfulness. What a mighty truth!
(Ephesians 3:20 KJV) Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Thanks be to God, who surpasses all expectations. Keep looking up.