2 Corinthians 4
It’s a beautiful chapter – make sure you give it a read, it won’t take long.
While I read, various people came to mind as Paul was describing his ministry. People I know who have – and are currently – serving faithfully, carrying on the work Paul had given his life to 2,000 years ago.
One of the key repeated themes in this chapter is the task of pointing others to God, rather than to ourselves. It requires humility and relying on God’s strength and mercy. It means realizing that this priceless treasure of the message of God’s glory is housed in our plain, everyday, unglamorous, and sometimes frail bodies. As Paul says: “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (vs. 7). It’s not about us – it’s about Him and His greatness. It involves letting God’s light shine through us – so others will see God when we share about His Son. After a conversation with others, do they know more about me – or about my God and my Lord?
And – it’s about the work of being a servant to those you minister to – for Jesus’ sake. Growing up as a pastor’s kid I was privileged enough to see the beauty of servanthood Pastor Ray Hall lived out daily. Numerous weekly Bible Studies at church, at the adult foster care homes or at the breakfast restaurant with the men’s group. Countless counseling sessions in his office, at the jail, or the hospital or even in the garage. Up extra early to drive the man in need of a fresh start to his new job, writing and delivering sermons and SS classes, taking breaks to fix the neighbors’ bikes or paint a welcome home sign for returning snowbirds, teaching the little kids’ VBS class and taking all the late-night phone calls.
Being a servant doesn’t leave a lot of time for piddly pursuits. In fact, it can be downright demanding, and sometimes discouraging. Paul knew. He writes, “We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…so then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” (vs 8, 9 & 12). In order to share the life-giving message with others – it was going to require taking up his cross and dying to his own will – just as Jesus did. It would be hard, but not without help (God’s power at work) or hope. “Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.” (vs. 14).
Even as Paul was following in Christ’s footsteps, he was encouraging those who would follow in his own footsteps with these words (repeated twice in this short chapter) – “We do not lose heart.” (vs. 1 & 16). God needs people with heart – and lots of it! You don’t have to be a full-time pastor to be taking on the role as a servant for Jesus’s sake. Some of the people I thought of when reading this chapter were not pastors but full-time mothers and dedicated Sunday School teachers or amazing pastors’ wives. Whether you are a student or a mother or a plumber or a truck driver or a teacher – you can also be called to be a servant – for Jesus’ sake.
On the sad flip side, other faces and hearts were brought to mind when Paul wrote about those for whom the gospel was veiled – those who were perishing. Some family. Some friends. Some from years of church and youth work. Indeed, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel.” (vs. 4). Satan is still very much alive and kicking. The battle is real. And real lives are perishing – unbeknownst to those with blinded minds. Pray for veils to be yanked off. Pray for our families to flee Satan. Pray for the light of the gospel to shine through the darkness.
Thank God for the light. Thank God for those who have been a servant to you to show you the light. Pray that through you God’s light will shine. Pray that you do not lose heart. Pray that you will be worthy of the title of servant – for Jesus’ sake.
Thankful and Praying,