2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 4 contains some insight into Paul and his attitude regarding ministry.  He writes several times that “we do not lose heart” in this chapter.  Doing the work of the ministry is just that – it is work – hard work that doesn’t always go as smoothly as you might want.  Paul shares some of those challenges in this chapter.  The song “Trading My Sorrows” is taken from this chapter of scripture.  You might want to play it as you read Paul’s journey of serving here.

Paul lists some of the challenges he is facing.  Check out his list and see if you understand why he is focused on not losing heart:

–       “Renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways

–       Refuse to practice cunning

–       Refuse to tamper with God’s Word

–       Afflicted in every way but not crushed

–       Perplexed but not driven to despair

–       Persecuted but not forsaken

–       Struck down but not destroyed

Paul and his little band of ministers are struggling in a battle because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel”.  It is a war – with real consequences – and one that requires us to not lose heart even when it seems things are going the wrong way.  Paul does something really important here – he keeps everything in perspective.  Yes there are challenges – there are bad things happening.  But he tells us “we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord”.  This is the mission that every ministry and church must follow – to preach Jesus Christ as Lord – not themselves and how great their work is.  That doesn’t matter.  The ministry is all about Jesus – no more or less.

Paul shows us that the task is to “let light shine out of darkness” and live in a way that the world can see Jesus as we walk daily.  “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not us”.  We demonstrate God’s love to the world – not by what we say – but by how we live.  What to people see when they observe your life?  Do they see Jesus at work in you and through you?  Do they see God’s grace poured out on all those in your patch?  Do they see you focused on being part of winning the battle for people’s souls?  Do they see God’s power expressed by the way you live?  We have a huge task at hand.  And it matters much for eternity sake!

Paul closes the chapter reminding us of our frailty and the reality of being a human being: “our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day”.  We are on a path leading to the end of our life on this earth.  That is a fact – we are all going to die.  So the question really is – are you prepared for what comes after death?  God is in the business of “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison……we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen….. things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal”.  Life on this earth is preparation for eternity.  That is the reality.  God has a plan – He wants us all to be ready for that day.  As God gives us His grace He is getting us all ready “as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God”.  Are you ready?  Have you received God’s grace – the gift of His Son on the Cross some two thousand years ago?  Don’t miss this.  It is the power of God to save us for eternity!

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