Summary: How Paul Showed Us How to Cope With Perplexing Ironies 2 Cor. 6:7-10 (Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing)
How Paul Showed Us How to Cope With Perplexing Ironies - 2 Cor. 6:7-10
Illustration:Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: To choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.
Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor. Philippians 2:12-18.
1. Paul, the apostle, learned how to cope with the problem of Christian ironies (Ill-timed or the perverse arrival of events or circumstances that would in themselves actually turn out to be profitable) Paul wrote, "In truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report. We are genuine yet regarded as impostors, known, yet regarded as unknown; dying and yet we live on; beaten and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (2 Cor. 6:7-10) Only through the power of the truth, the enabling of the Spirit and the use of our weapons of righteousness are we able to successfully manage the ironies of life. Ask the Lord to help you follow the fine example of Paul in contending with every irony in your relationships, personal life and ministry.
2. Paul, the apostle, knew how to rely on God’s ability to work all ironies together for good. (Rom 8:28) By trusting the Lord through prayer, singing and a patient attitude, Paul gained greater insight into the various ways that the God can turn tragedies into triumphs. Choose to rejoice in your trials, knowing that God is able to build godliness, love, and greater wisdom in you through a whole range of ironic challenges. Ask the Lord to give you greater discipline to make the right attitudinal, emotional and ministry choices that will show your ability to make the most of all things
3. Paul, the apostle, learned how to overcome his tendency to become angry with people by believing that God can ironically work through adversity for the greater good of us all. No doubt, Paul’s tendency to let his anger get the best of him, made many people hesitant to draw close to the fiery apostle. Remember, Barnabas and John Mark were driven away by Paul’s angry reaction to John Mark’s withdrawal from a missionary journey. By the power, love and grace of the Spirit, Paul transformed his mind in a way that conquered his emotions. Ask the Lord to help you overcome your tendency to get anger or fearful when you are faced with perplexing ironies.
4. Paul, the apostle, endured loneliness, persecution and social pressures to mis-interpret situations because of his ability to rise above problems. Few men in history endured such adversity from the religious Jews, as Paul. In addition to spending years in prison, Paul’s life was constantly threatened by fanatics. Paul wrote, "We do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us. " (2 Cor. 1:8-10) Ask the Lord to help you hope in God for your deliverance regardless of the intensity or the duration of your ironic trials. Trust the Lord to give you the grace and wisdom to correctly interpret events from the eyes of our heavenly Father.
5. Paul, the apostle, appeared to be poor, but knew He was rich. The test of true riches is not measured by one’s financial net worth. Instead, Paul taught that true riches are best expressed by one’s rich intimacy with Jesus Christ. Through a loving and intimate communion with the Lord, we are able to taste the richness of God’s grace, love and power in ways that is far better than all monetary riches. Ask the Lord to help you gain a greater appreciation for how rich you are in Christ because of His encouragement, affection, consolation of love, compassion, purpose, meaning, fulfillment, joy, peace, self-discipline, power, fellowship of the Spirit, forgiveness, and the gift of eternal life. Ask the Lord to help you to appropriate all the rich resources you have in Jesus Christ through your relationships, your ministries and your personal thoughts.
6. Paul, the apostle, did not have to fear oppressive, abusive or sinister authorities since He knew that God could even use the wrath of man for His greater praise. Paul experienced many injustices at the hands of the religious, political and social authorities of his day. Yet, Paul said, "I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet, I am not ashamed because I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (2 Tim. 1:11,12) Ask the Lord to help you refuse to be intimidated by authorities that fail to follow the full will of God. Trust God to give you the ability to suffer unashamedly as Paul did.