Summary: How can we not lose heart? (adapted from Bob Russell's book, Take Comfort, chapter on Don't Lose Heart)
The New York City transit company was missing a bus and a driver some years ago. For over a week, authorities searched with no success. Finally, 10 days after they had disappeared, the bus and driver were found- in Miami, Florida. The driver said, “I’d had it with the cold weather, the passengers, and my family. One day after the last passenger got off, I thought, ‘I wonder what would happen if I just took off driving.’” So that’s what he did until he got to Florida, where he enjoyed the sun and the surf for over a week. Ever felt like taking off and never coming back?
People get disillusioned and quit. Maybe we feel like quitting the Christian life today. We started out with high hopes, but it’s not working out as we imagined. We have yielded to temptation again and again. There have been troubles, and the harder we work the worse things get so why bother? Why not just drop out and live for ourselves?
The worst defeat in college football came in 1916 when Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland College of Kentucky 222 to 0. Cumberland never even made a first down. The much smaller Cumberland players were being mauled. Halfway through the first half one of the Cumberland players fumbled the ball. As it rolled toward a teammate, the one who fumbled yelled, “Pick it up. Pick it up.” The teammate yelled back, “You pick it up! Your dropped it.” We know how he felt. Sometimes our situation looks so hopeless we quit trying. We’re just tired of getting knocked down again and again. But the Bible encourages us never to quit the Christian life. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9, NIV. The people I’ve come to appreciate most over the years are not the flashy people or the gifted people, but the people who just don’t quit. The apostle Paul was that kind of person. 2 times in chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians he says, “We do not lose heart.”
Thesis: How can we not lose heart?
Remember our responsibility
Duty has become a nasty 4 letter word in our society. “I quit going to church because I didn’t want to go just out of duty.” “I quit putting in the extra time at work. I didn’t enjoy it any more, and I didn’t want to keep doing it just because I was obligated.” “I’m not going to stay in this marriage out of a sense of duty.” “I quit giving just because I felt that it was my duty. I don’t want to give because I’m obligated.”
One reason there is so much irresponsibility today is that we have convinced ourselves that all of life is supposed to be pleasant. We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that says, “If it feels good, do it,” and we know that is not right. However, we often think this way: if it doesn’t feel good, we should quit doing it. We think anytime we go contrary to the way we feel, we’re being cheated or we’re acting hypocritical. There are times we have to evaluate whether this is what God would have us to do, but even after we know our ministry there will be times when it will be hard
Vs. 1- Paul realized that he had a responsibility greater than his own personal feelings. He had a ministry to carry the gospel to as many people as possible. I think there were probably times when Paul did not feel like going to prison. There were times when it did not feel good to be flogged. It probably wasn’t always fun to be ridiculed and rejected and shipwrecked. But Paul refused to quit because he had a duty. He had a ministry to take the gospel to the world.
Paul remembered that he had this ministry “through God’s mercy.” He remembered how he had received his salvation. He deserved death because he had persecuted the Christians. But God in his mercy had sent Jesus Christ to die in Paul’s place.
I doubt that Jesus went to the cross because it felt good. In Gethsemane Jesus sweat drops of blood and pleaded with the Father-“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39, NIV. Jesus went to the cross because it was his mission, his responsibility. It was certainly contrary to his immediate desires, but Jesus had a sense of duty because of His concern for people. Paul is saying, “Remembering God’s mercy, and God’s sacrifice for me, I cannot lose heart because I have this ministry.”