Growing up, I loved to run in races. I never had the fastest time, but I loved the sense of community that came from everyone pursuing the same goal: finish the run. Even though I don’t run as much as I used to, I still see the power of pursuing a unified goal in my family, my job, my church, and my community. We encourage one another to set our eyes on the more important things even when we may not feel like doing so on our own.
In today’s reading, Paul continues to give a defense of his ministry. He tells the Corinthian church, “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2). Paul speaks plainly about the gospel and does not try to manipulate or somehow warp the message of the cross to be more pleasing to others. Even so, this message is so winsome that it wins people over anyway.
This being said, just because the message itself is convincing and life-changing, it doesn’t mean that Paul became rich and famous, living a life of ease. His life was difficult and the only thing that kept him going was the reminder of his purpose and his commitment to reaching his goals. During Paul’s ministry which started with him being blind for three days, he was almost stoned to death, bitten by a snake, shipwrecked, and kept under house arrest. He left for Rome towards the end of his life knowing that he was going to be killed there. A martyr, he was beheaded by the Roman emperor Nero. Despite the difficulties of his life, he recognized that the message that he was speaking was too important to keep hidden. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, he says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” The troubles that he faced did not destroy him. Instead, they renewed him day by day because Paul recognized that through his troubles the gospel was being spread even more effectively!
So, how can we grow to have the same mentality as Paul? In verse 18, he says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Just like a runner in the race, we have to keep our eyes set on the finish line. We need to keep our mind set on the eternal. If we do that, the distractions of the present day start to fade away. What are your eyes fixed on? Live life in light of eternity.
~ Cayce Fletcher
Questions for Application:
- What do you say the goal, mission, or purpose of your life is?
- Are you facing difficulties that keep you from reaching this goal?
- How might these difficulties be renewing you day by day? What could be some of the lessons or benefits from these difficulties?