2 Corinthians 4:1 – “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.” NKJV
Actually, I would hope that you will take the time to read Chapter 4:1 through Chapter 5:8 because it is the foundation of what I want us to consider for this devotional. As I examine scripture and read the writings of the various contributors to the Old and New Testaments I find that it is never difficult to discover what was in the apostle Paul’s mind at any given time. He reveals it in verse 1 and again in verse 16… DO NOT LOSE HEART! In the KJV it is rendered “we faint not.” The literal rendering is “we do not lose heart.” Even the casual reader of the New Testament would find it difficult to miss the many reasons for discouragement in Paul’s life. However, He refused to quit. He did not spend time lamenting his difficulties and complaining as we often do but in the midst of his difficulties sought to encourage and inspire others to Function with Gumption and Unction. I ask that you consider, briefly, some of Paul’s encouragements and the basis for his encouragement.
- OUR MINISTRY IS A GLORIOUS MINISTRY – – [2 Corinthians 4:1-6]
The literal rendering of Paul’s declaration is, “Therefore, seeing we have THIS KIND of ministry.” [Emphasis mine]. What kind of ministry? This was described in detail in the previous chapter: “A glorious ministry that brings men life, salvation, and righteousness; a ministry that is able to transform men’s lives.” WOW! Who would not want that kind of ministry and result? Paul makes it clear that this kind of ministry is a “gift of God” and is received because of God’s Mercy and Grace not because of something we are or do.
Let me suggest that the view your ministry will help to determine how you will fulfill it. If you look at your service to the LORD as a burden rather than a privilege you will be a drudge and do only that which is required or deemed necessary. If you consider it a tremendous privilege, you will develop a very positive attitude and that will result in some powerful consequences in your life, walk, and work. Do we see what God sees in the assignments given to us?
Consider Paul’s approach to the ministry assigned him. He declared in 4:1 that it kept him from quitting. He acknowledges trials and that some of them almost brought him to despair 4:8. Even with the incredible gifts and experience he was still human and faced trials. One of the keys that kept him going was his confidence that “faithful is He who calls you, Who also will do it.” He walked in confidence that God’s Call also included God’s Provision and Grace. The divine call always includes the divine enablement. God WILL NEVER desert us! In vv 2-4 Paul reveals this kept him from deception, saying, “But we have renounced the hidden things because of shame, not walking in the craftiness of adulterating the Word of God, but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
Have you ever wondered why false teachers were so successful in attacking Paul and other disciples or apostles? The simple but incomplete answer is, the mind of the sinner is blinded by the devil. Fallen man finds it easier to believe a lie than the truth. Consider vv 3-4 to verify that reality. Satan uses, among other things, religious teachers to deceive people. The deceived deceiving the gullible, and it still happens today.
This ministry kept Paul from self-promotion as seen in vv 5-6 – “We preach not ourselves.” If a ministry is focused on “look at me” that ministry is one to be wary of. Paul practiced and we need to strive for Genuine Humility. He did not trust himself – (1:9). He did not commend himself – (3:1-5). He did not preach himself – (4:5). He sought to lead people to Jesus and build them up in their faith not amass a personal following.
I pray that the Lord with help each one who is a minister or anyone who is considered laity to realize that your assignment is a Glorious Ministry because it is His Ministry! I will pause here and pick up next time considering the Gumption to Function with Unction.
May the Lord richly bless you is my prayer and desire!