Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2 Corinthians 6:1-13 Grace is Magnified in Troubles

KEY TEXT: 2 Cor 6:4-10 as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. 

KEY THOT: Paul’s CV as “servants of God” consists of (1) endurance in the midst of personal trials; (2) godly responses (purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, love, truthful speech and the power of God) to unfair criticisms and accusations; (3) focus on helping others succeed in life while being treated like failures.

If we are true servants of God, we should be prepared to exercise the same grace towards others, like Jesus did: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Grace is “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything”. Grace is not about getting the “good life” but about helping others find the “good life”.

As someone who has given my entire adult life to ministry since I was 30, I have accepted the realities of full-time ministry, viz., “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” It’s the way of the cross. Unlike secular employment where our senior positions do get us some respect by our staff because of better pay and better perks, our position as “senior pastor” does not automatically guarantee more respect but often elicits snide and hurtful remarks. Jesus himself has already forewarned his servants: "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household” (Matt 10:24-25).

As a servant of God, I have to keep focused on the big picture: I have been called as God’s servant to help extend His rule over people in darkness, to help them experience the abundant life. There will be ecclesiastical detractors and opponents; I have to accept that as part of the ministry call. Like Jesus, I must keep on proclaiming the Kingdom of God and let God handle my detractors. However, when accused, I have to respond in kindness, patience and love by the power of the Holy Spirit; but as God’s servant, I live to please God, not people.

Lord Jesus, You have called me into ministry as a servant of God to follow You. And You have forewarned me there will be those who will oppose what I am doing. Help me to stay focused on Your will and Your kingdom vision. Amen.

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