Summary: Three reasons we can have a better perspective when in difficult times.
A New Perspective
Woodlawn Baptist Church
A. During the course of the last several weeks, many of our messages have dealt with life’s problems and trials, the giants we face and how we are to deal with them. There has never been a time in history when it has been all that easy to be a Christian, though I might suggest to you that these days are comparatively easier than many times of the past. However, I might also add that if we were to take our faith as seriously as the apostle Paul did, things might not run so smoothly for many of us.
B. Paul lived in dangerous times. Life was not easy for the Corinthian Christians. Temptations and trials threatened them. Discouragement and depression were recurring problems. In the midst of all these trials, Paul stood out with a great confidence, but it was not a confidence based on who he was but on whose he was. The result of such a thinking is evident in his bold living.
C. In our message tonight, I want you to consider that God is calling us to a new perspective in our trials and problems. I know quite well that many of you are afflicted in various ways, but it is your perspective in those afflictions that determines your actions. What might this new perspective do? Can you be too otherworldly and focused too much on the future? Perhaps so, but if our minds are where they ought to be, then we can gain new insights for living here and now in this life, insights that will enable you too to live boldly and confidently in the name of Jesus.
D. Chapter 4 is devoted entirely to this theme of Paul’s confidence. There were many things in which Paul was confident: the truth of the Gospel, the results of his salvation, even the rewards of his faith. Remember, Paul’s confidence in these things made him the follower of Christ he was. They can you too if you believe and act upon them. Since it is verse 17 that we are after tonight, and since we are after a new perspective on our trials or afflictions, let’s make note of three reasons we can have this new perspective. Why can we have a new perspective in our afflictions?
I. Because they are light.
A. We need to back up a little so we can understand something about the afflictions mentioned here. In the previous verses, Paul makes clear that his life was given to making known the grace of God. Verse 15 gives us some insight. "For all things are for your sakes…" Then in verse 16, Paul says, "for which cause we faint not…" Which cause was this? It was Paul’s purpose, his ministry – that of getting the gospel to these people and helping them to grow in their faith. Paul wasn’t going to give up or loose heart in this endeavor no matter what the cost.
"Though our outward man perish" – though he was wearing his body out and pushing it to its limits, the inward man was renewed day by day."
B. When Paul was talking about affliction – he wasn’t talking about petty bellyaching and such. He was talking about the afflictions he suffered as the result of giving his life away. He was talking about the prison sentences, the constant slander, those who took advantage of him, the ones who beat and mocked him. He was talking about being an outcast among his own people – being rejected the way Christ was. He was talking about the whippings and lashings and beatings. He was talking about the stonings, the shipwrecks, the constant traveling and not having a home. He was referring to the constant threat of living in the wild, of having to go hungry because he was broke or because no one would offer to feed him. He was talking about sleeping outside in the harsh winters, going without decent clothes and shelter.
C. We talk about our afflictions – about how we can’t get a good parking place at Wal-Mart or about how it takes more than 10 minutes to get our food at the restaurant. We complain because our insurance doesn’t pick up all the tab or because the cell phones won’t reach who we’re trying to call. Afflictions? What do we really know about afflictions? If Paul endured all he did and could still call them light – then how are we to view ours?
D. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean to belittle anyone or to suggest that your afflictions aren’t real. What I am suggesting is that we get a new perspective on them. Look at verse 16 again – "For which cause we faint not." Now go to Hebrews 12:1-4 and read it with me. When you begin to be wearied and faint – when you feel like giving up and loosing heart, consider the opposition and affliction that Jesus Christ faced doing what He did for you!