Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 October 30, 2022
“Lose Not Heart”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Things in our world tempt us to lose heart—to lose motivation—to persist and to abound in the things of God. There seems these days too much to do and too little time to do it—and the accompanying weariness tempt us to lose heart. We’ve noted, during the COVID-19 pandemic, that workplace phenomenon known as the great quit. Apparently, the great quit plagues Christ’s Church, and many a local church, in these days—and this tempts us to lose heart to worship Him and to serve Him. We also note that many an evildoer prospers, while many a saint struggles—and this fact tempts us, just as it tempted Asaph (in Psalm 73), to lose heart to walk with the Lord.
To those assailed by these, and like, scenarios, God speaks an encouraging word from His Word, the Bible. Let’s hear the Lord speak to our souls by His Spirit as we hear the Word of God read and proclaimed once again in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
In the verses immediately preceding ours today, Paul, led by the Spirit, notes that his associates and he hold a treasure—the Gospel of the glory of God—in jars of clay, namely, themselves. Think for a moment about jars of clay. They are not deemed highly beautiful or valuable, but they are highly susceptible to damage. What a glorious treasure the Gospel is, but how unexpected to find it committed to such commonplace vessels. This is Paul’s view of himself and his apostolic associates—not to mention the rest of us as well.
Paul asserts that the Lord ordered this to be so in order that may see that the surpassing power inherent in the Gospel belongs to God and not to us. In fact, we who serve our living Lord find that we suffer as Paul did—though not to like degree most of the time. Paul confesses the travails of the apostolic band thus: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11). Yet, not only does God uphold this afflicted band (and us) by His almighty power, but He also causes much good to flow to those receiving their (and our) ministry—and both of these redound to His glory. Therefore, in the midst of providential affliction, especially affliction incurred in ministry discharged in Jesus’ Name, God provides great blessing.
First, God renews us amid providential ministerial affliction. Though our outer man wastes away, both from the ravages of age and from the intensity and long duration of our exertions, yet He renews our inner man day by day. He does this chiefly through His ordinary means of grace. As we get God’s Word into us, as we commune with Him in prayer, and as we worship Him with others, we find our inner man renewed—even day by day.
Second, God uses providential ministerial affliction to prepare for us an eternal weight of glory. Paul calls his afflictions light and momentary, and, knowing as much as we do from Scripture about Paul, we must ask, “Is Paul out of his mind?” His afflictions, at first glance, appear neither light nor momentary (cf. 11:24-28). They appear, on the contrary, to be both intense and of long standing. When we view them as Paul did, in the light of eternity, then we conclude with Paul—and with the Holy Spirit—that they indeed are light and momentary. Moreover, they prepare for us an eternal weight of glory—a glory beyond all comparison, as Paul asserts elsewhere, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
This eternal weight of glory, beyond all comparison, comes to our lives as we look to the things unseen, rather than to the things seen. The things seen: the things of the world, such as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16), are transient. They are ever-changing and not long enduring. The things unseen—the Lord, His truth, His promises, and the like—are eternal. They do not change, and they remain forever—just as the Lord Himself changes not and remains forever. Let us ever keep looking at these unseen things, and we shall manage well, by God’s grace, not to lose heart.
Again, in view of all the foregoing, let us not lose heart to persist and to abound in the things of God. Remember, as Paul wrote in another of his letters, that we shall reap in due season if we faint not (Galatians 6:9). Become not discouraged under providential affliction, especially affliction that arises out of our Christian service, for these afflictions refine and strengthen our faith (cf. 1 Peter 1:6-7)—a faith precious above all earthly riches. Let us, whenever we meet together, encourage one another and be encouraged by one another concerning these things. Let us persist and abound in the things of God by looking not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen—which endure forever.