August 14, 2019 • By Richard Allen, ELCA Spiritual Life Director
The fourth chapter of Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthian believers is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. In it, Paul is giving some instructions to his friends in Corinth. Look at some of what he tells them,
Verse 1 “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”
Verse 7 – 10 “But we have this treasure (Jesus Christ) in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
Verse 16 – 18 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things which are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient(temporary), but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
When Paul mentions “we do not lose heart” he is telling us that it is possible as believers at certain times in our lives that we can lose heart. I think all of us have experienced this before, whether in our jobs, or in our families, or whatever we might be involved with. I truly believe this happens because we place ourselves as believers in a place to really care about people, and in doing that, sometimes things don’t work out the way we would like for them to work out. Paul said he was afflicted, he was perplexed, he was persecuted, he was struck down. Most of us have not experienced that kind of “losing heart”. Even in all of this Paul calls it a “light momentary affliction.”
So, what caused Paul to keep going, to get over those afflictions, and to not lose heart? In looking at Paul’s life I believe there are some things he did that kept him going when he tended to lose heart. What are they?
- Paul realized that he could not do what he was called to do in his own strength. He had to say, “God I can’t do this”. This sounds bad at first, but I believe that this is really what the Lord is looking for in our lives. There are two ways to respond when we realize we can’t do something. One is to just give up and quit. Many people do this in ministry, in family, and in work. The other way to respond is to realize that when we can’t do something, as believers, we have God’s Spirit in us to help us get the job done. This is really what He is looking for anyway. He can do a much better job than we can, so let us learn to yield ourselves to the work of His Spirit in our lives, and be His hands and feet in this world today.
- Paul always kept an eternal perspective in everything he did. This is so important for us today. The world tries to get our eyes off of the eternal, and the enemy tries to convince us to live for today. We have got to be intentional in our ministry, our families, and in our work, to always remember that there is more to our lives than just what we can see and experience with our five senses. Paul tells us in Philippians that “our citizenship is in heaven”. This earthly life is temporary. When we realize this fact and live by it every day, we won’t lose heart, because we know as believers the best is still to come.
I pray that each of us would yield ourselves to the One who gave himself for us. What a sacrifice He made – what a price He paid. Let us be busy about His work in this life, and if we happen to get to the place of “losing heart,” may we look to God’s Word, and the life of Paul and his example. I am confident that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Richard Allen came to ELCA in 2003, moving into the position of High School principal in 2007. Prior to coming to ELCA, Mr. Allen served for sixteen years at Athens Christian School in Athens, Georgia. He graduated from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He and his wife Kathy were married for thirty-six years, prior to her home-going in May 2007. They have one son, Jonathan, who graduated from Berry College and is married to Sarah.