Summary: Paul faced much opposition in ministry. He was forced to change his plans on numerous occasions, and yet he chose to see the possibilities instead of the obstacles. We too will face difficulty, but we must maintain our perspective, seeing possibilities.
Seeing the Possibilities
2 Corinthians 2: 12-17
As you read and study Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church, you discover his ministry there was difficult at best. The church was situated in a city that was morally corrupt, and its influence was showing up in negative ways within the church. Paul’s authority came into question among some within the church, and it seemed that he was forced to deal with one issue after another.
Facing such adversity and opposition, it would have been easy to have grown discouraged. Some would have been tempted to abandon the work altogether. However, Paul refused to give up on Corinth. He chose to focus on the possibilities for growth rather than the many obstacles the work there presented. Paul decided to consider the opportunities instead of the opposition.
Our situation is much different today, and yet there are similarities. Our world is rapidly changing, and yet we must continue to bear witness of the Gospel. Like Paul, we too must focus on the opportunities we have instead of the increasing opposition. Today we have entered another New Year. Ahead of us lie endless opportunities for Christ. I want to consider the expectations of Paul in our text as we think on the challenge of: Seeing the Possibilities.
I. A Day of Opportunity (12-13) – Here Paul speaks of a previous season that wasn’t exactly as he had planned, and yet he sought opportunity to serve the Lord. Consider:
A. The Provision (12) – Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord. Paul speaks of arriving in Troas, a city in Asia Minor, east of Corinth on the opposite side of the Aegean Sea. He came with the intent of preaching the Gospel, and God was faithful to open a door for him to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul rejoiced for the fruitful ministry at Troas and the provision of God in providing opportunities to preach.
As we approach the New Year, we need to do so with the commitment and desire of Paul. He did not sit and wait for an opportunity to present itself; he went to Troas, intending to share the Gospel. If we will determine in our hearts to serve the Lord and share our faith with others, God will be faithful to provide opportunities to do so!
B. The Problem (13a) – I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother. Most agree Paul had sent Titus to Corinth, bearing the first letter written to the church there, with the anticipation of meeting him again in Troas. When Paul arrived in Troas, Titus was not there. This caused great concern, troubling the spirit of Paul. He was anxious to hear a report from Titus regarding the well-being of the church in Corinth. Clearly Paul is deeply burdened for the church and desired to know if things had improved.
As you study the ministry of Paul, you discover numerous occasions where trouble and adversity abounded. Things did not always go as planned, and Paul was forced to deal with problems in ministry. Trouble is something we all have; we don’t have to seek it, trouble will find us. The coming year will have its problems, but we must not allow adversity or unforeseen events to hinder our commitment to the Lord.
C. The Perseverance (13b) – but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia. The plan was to meet Titus in Troas, but Paul refused to allow this issue to hinder his focus in ministry. Having met the current need in Troas, he went on to Macedonia, to minister to the Philippian church. Paul refused to allow a momentary setback dictate his course of action. Although things had not gone as planned, he was determined to continue in ministry.
Such perseverance requires faith and committed resolve, but it is necessary if we are to be fruitful for the Lord. When adversity comes, or plans change suddenly, we must adapt to the current situation and press on for the Lord. There is too much at stake to allow an inconvenience or personal setback hinder our labor for the Lord and the Gospel.
II. A Day of Optimism (14-16a) – Here we find that Paul remained optimistic about his ministry, even in the face of difficulty. His optimism was influenced by:
A. God’s Favor (14a) – Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ. There had been setbacks in Troas, and the church in Corinth was in turmoil. Paul had dealt with adversity, and yet he was not discouraged. He praised God for His favor, knowing he was always triumphant in Christ. (Regardless of what we face in life or ministry, we can always be optimistic in Christ. We are victorious through Him, even in the face of difficulty! He secured our victory over sin and death as He died to redeem us and rose again in resurrection life.)