2 Corinthians 4:11-14

In 2 Corinthians 4:11-14 we learn that God made Paul more effective in ministry through his suffering. He knew that the ministry he brought to the Corinthian Christians came in part through the suffering he endured in ministry. Jesus becomes more alive in us when we are beyond our own ability to deal with the world around us. “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” Sometimes we think that if someone is really spiritual or really used of God they will live in a constant state of “victory” that means life will always be easy. That’s not how God works.

There was some irony in the suffering Paul did and how the church at Corinth viewed it. The Corinthian Christians despised Paul because of his great sufferings and because of what they thought was their great lives of “victory.” They did not see that their lives of victory were only possible because God made Paul such an effective servant through suffering. “So death is at work in us, but life in you.” We don’t get to victory in our lives without getting to the place where Jesus is at work in us in situations which we cannot handle on our own. If we want a life of victory, we need to get more of Jesus and than happens as we are forced to depend on Him.

Paul reveals a critical principle that we need to grasp onto – faith creates our testimony. Paul really believed God had a purpose in his death-like sufferings, and really believed he lived and experienced the resurrection life of Jesus. Therefore, he wasn’t hesitant to speak about it. “Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe….”. Morgan wrote “If you can’t say “we also believe,” then you should not speak. That is one great secret of power and success in the Christian ministry. If you do not believe, shut your mouth. That is a word for young ministers. If you do not believe, do not talk.”

Paul knew that every trial and suffering situation he faced was something that God would use in his future ministry. He had full confidence in God and what He was doing in His life. How did he believe? He had faith that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead was at work in his life. And there is a plan for how God wants to use us to impact the people around us. “…..and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” Paul teaches the Corinthians with confidence, not based on his own ability, but based on Jesus in him. That’s where his ability comes from. That’s where our ability will come from as well!

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