Summary: Not every day in the Christian life is exciting. Some days are discouraging and downright difficult. Don’t lose heart.
DON’T LOSE HEART
INTRODUCTION: Some days are diamonds. Some days are stones. Not every day in the Christian life is exciting. Some days are discouraging and downright difficult. Don’t lose heart.
Note in v.1 Paul’s “therefore”. He’s drawing a conclusion about his “ministry”. It was the result of God’s “mercy” (the New Covenant-ch.3). What does he have to say? He speaks of:
I. His Ministry (1-2)
A. His awareness of his ministry (1): He was aware that God had entrusted to him the ministry of reconciliation. “This ministry” literally reads “this kind of ministry”. What kind? The proclamation of new life in Christ brought about by grace alone.
B. His attitude toward his ministry (1): “We faint not”. Don’t lose heart. He saw his ministry as a gift from God.
C. His action concerning his ministry (2): Always use honorable methods in evangelism. Handle the word properly. “Dishonesty” = shame. “Craftiness” = deception, underhanded. It’s the same word used of the serpent tricking Eve. Don’t be marked by darkness, deception or distortion. Be ethical!
II. His Message (v.3-6)
If Paul correctly handled the word then why didn’t some believe his message? Look at v.3-4. “The God of this world” = Satan. Blind eyes are bad but blind minds are worse. Satan was using false teachers to win many (remember ch. 3 and the Old Covenant?) It’s like C.H. Spurgeon said, “Man’s always trying to throw his two cents worth in to save himself.”
In Spite of all that Paul just kept on preaching Jesus! Only Jesus can open blind eyes and blind minds.
III. His Mishaps (v.7-12)
Pay attention to some words here. “Treasure” = valuable, expensive. What is the treasure? Christ and the gospel. “Earthen vessels” = clay pot. Us. We are weak and fragile. We are easily damaged. It’s the treasure within the vessel that gives it value. The important thing is that the vessel be clean and available for service. As Jesus fills the vessel the power of God is seen. But beware; when the vessel is filled there will be trials ahead.
Notice Paul’s words: “Pressure” = troubled, afflicted. It’s a picture of a man surrounded by his enemies. “Not distressed” = crushed. “Perplexity” = to be at a loss of, to be without, bewildered, tough to understand. “Not in despair” = not at hope’s end. “Persecution” = to hunt. Hunted like a wild animal. “Not deserted” = not forsaken. “Struck down” = knocked down by force. “Not destroyed” = welcome to the spirit filled life!
IV. His Motivation (v.13-18)
What kept Paul going?
A. His faith (13)
B. His force (16): God was his source and force.
C. His focus (v.14, 17-18): Resurrection (14), reward (11), reality (18).
CONCLUSION: See v.1 and v.16. Don’t lose heart!