Summary: Today’s world is filled with energy-saving devices that make life easier, but there is something to be said for embracing life’s challenges. The apostle Paul found serving Christ hard, but he didn’t see it as a cause of discouragement. The goal was worth
Opening illustration: On September 12th, 1962, President JF Kennedy delivered a speech at Rice University in Houston, TX, about the difficult challenges facing the nation. He also shared his passion for the US to place a man on the moon. In balancing the needs of his people with the desire to conquer space, Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade. We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard.” The nation responded. Seven years later, Neil Armstrong took a step for man but a “giant leap for mankind” in July of 1969, walking on the moon.
This morning we will look into God’s Word and see why we as believers of Jesus Christ must make the hard choices in our lives or should we be looking out for easy short cuts for our Christian life. Let us turn to 2 Corinthians 4: 5 – 18.
Introduction: Paul and his fellow apostles (4: 6 - 13) stand in contrast to these “super leaders,” who are so esteemed by some of the saints in Corinth. The Corinthians who have aligned themselves with the “super leaders” feel smug and superior to the other saints, including Paul. Paul and his colleagues have become “as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things” (4: 13). They are looked down upon as an embarrassment to the church, while their new leaders give the Corinthians a sense of pride since they are so smooth, so persuasive, and so wise. In reality, these leaders, in whom all too many of the saints take pride, are “false apostles,” as Paul spells out in 2 Corinthians 11. Because these messengers are so attractive, charming and appealing that some Christians are only too happy to give up the gospel, as preached by Paul and the apostles and to embrace whatever “gospel” these false apostles might offer (see 11: 1 - 15).
Why do we choose the hard things?
1. Depend on God’s Mercy (vs. 5 – 7)
Paul had said that his course had been open, and pure, and free from all dishonest arts and tricks, and that he had not corrupted the Word of God, or resorted to any artifice to accomplish his designs. The “reason” of this he here says is, that he had not preached himself, or sought to advance his own interest. He regarded himself as sent to make known a Savior; himself as bound by all means to promote his cause, and to imitate him. Other people - the false teachers, and the cunning priests of the pagan religion - sought to advance their own interest and to perpetuate a system of delusion that would be profitable to themselves; and they therefore resorted to all arts, and stratagems, and cunning devices to perpetuate their authority, and extend their influence. For God hath shined in our hearts - The hearts of all those whom the god of this world no longer blinds. God who is himself our light; not only the author of light (Genesis 1: 2), but also the fountain of it. To enlighten us with the knowledge of the glory of God - Of his glorious love, and of his glorious image. In the face of Jesus Christ - Which reflects his glory in another manner than the face of Moses did. But we - Not only the apostles, but all true believers. Have this treasure - Of divine light, love, glory. In earthen vessels (that have gone through the fire in the furnace) - In frail, feeble, perishing bodies. He proceeds to show, that afflictions, yea, death itself, are so far from hindering the ministration of the Spirit, that they even further it, sharpen the ministers, and increase the fruit. That the excellence of the power, which works these in us, may undeniably appear to be of God.