Summary: Encouragement on how to not lose heart. How does God use struggles to move us forward spiritually?
WHY DO WE GET DISCOURAGED? Obstacles weigh us down.
- In one sense, it’s good news that the first part of v. 16 is in there. It’s a reminder to us that God knows that we get discouraged and need a little hope. These verses are in here to give us that hope. Hopefully this sermon will share what that hope is.
- It’s bad news, though, in the sense that the verse has not promised to make everything in our lives easy and encouraging.
- We find ourselves in situations where obstacles weigh us down. Because of that we get discouraged. It is hopeful for us that v. 16a points us to truth that will help us to not lose heart.
- What is that truth? Hopefully this sermon gets that across.
WHAT IS THE PATH FORWARD FOR US? We choose obedience by faith.
- Let’s work our way through this passage and see if we can’t unpack what Paul is getting at.
- First, we have the remainder of v. 16.
- Paul notes there is a difference between what’s going on outside us and inside us. Outwardly we are “wasting away.” The struggle is weighing us down, tripping us up, hurting us. If we just focus on that part of it, we will only find reasons to be discouraged. Thankfully, there’s more.
- The rest of that sentence is we are inwardly “being renewed day by day.” God is working within us. God is empowering us. God is at work in us.
- This is where the idea of “obedience by faith” comes into play. We need to continue to obey God, but it comes by faith. As you know, faith is the evidence of things not seen. That kind of faith is essential when there is such a distance between what we can see and what we can’t see. If we only focus on what we can see (“outwardly”), we will get discouraged and depressed. We have to believe by faith that God is doing something else, something “inwardly.”
WHY WOULDN'T GOD JUST TAKE AWAY OUR OBSTACLE? He is less interested in our convenience than He is our Christlikeness.
- Now we come to the most famous verse in this passage. It often gets quoted at funerals. It sometimes gets mentioned in trying to encourage people who are getting hit by big problems. It’s not usually explained very well, though.
- Paul calls the struggles that we’re going through “our light and momentary struggles.”
- I don’t think he’s trying to minimize the problems we face. I think he’s just looking at them in light of the larger plan that God has. Sure, they’re big problems to us now, but they won’t seem that gargantuan when we are looking back on them from the perspective of eternity.
- He also doesn’t say that those “struggles” are going to be taken away. Instead, he points us in another direction.
- The key phrase in this verse may be the least interesting one. Right in the middle Paul says “are achieving for us.” This is important. Don’t run past it. The struggles that God is allowing in our lives are doing something in us and for us. They are “achieving for us” something. That means that struggles that we go through produce a result. What’s that result?
- Paul gives us that answer: “an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
- That’s beautiful, but what does it actually mean?
- Let’s take it in two parts.
- First, “an eternal glory.”
- When we speak of “glory,” our thoughts go to God and the glory that He has. That speaks to the majesty and honor that God possesses. Our lives have the possibility of shining more glory on God. It also gives us the opportunity to share in God’s glory. Note that the verse says it is achieving “for us” an eternal glory. We get to be a part of the glory of God.
- This is an incredible thought: rather than living for things that will pass away, we can live to participate in the glory of God.
- Second, “that far outweighs them all.”
- This opportunity that God is opening up is not a 51/49 proposition. It is an incredible chance.
- As we go through this sermon and think about whether we want to endure what God is calling us to, we can know that His opinion of whether it’s worth it. “Without question,” God would tell us.
- So, to go back to the point in your sermon outline, we have a choice before us: are we going to focus on our convenience or our Christlikeness?
- Most American Christians obviously want their own convenience. We can tell that from the lack of spiritual growth that we see all around us. We can tell that from the lack of impact that the American church has on our culture. We can tell that from the lack of concern over the indifferent results the church is now achieving.