Today I’m in 2 Corinthians 4.
As I mentioned previously, the Lord is refining me very specifically when it comes to my Christian relationships, especially concerning issues of Christian liberty and theological disagreements.
Being in 2 Corinthians has been such a blessing because in it (and 1 Corinthians) Paul addresses exactly that: issues in the church (amongst the body) that cause disunity and contentiousness.
I talked about Paul’s explanation of how important it is to forgive, comfort, and restore an errant brother or sister in the Lord here, and 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 provides a great follow up. It reads:
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.
But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the Truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
What I find most interesting about verse 1 is that mercy is the cure to a despairing heart, which means having a heavy heart in ministry is recognized by Paul [and by God] as a very real possibility.
Paul wouldn’t remind us that mercy is the cure to a heavy heart if there wasn’t the possibility of a heavy heart to begin with.
Have you been there? Losing heart as you faithfully serve the body? It’s not a long shot to assume it happens with a fair bit of regularity – we are but human, and the pews of our church are filled will sinners in process. On this side of heaven, the church will never be perfect because its people aren’t perfect.
Maybe you are losing heart right now. Maybe you are feeling the strain of disagreement with a brother or sister in Christ. Maybe you are tired or weary or worn. Maybe you have been hurt or maybe you have hurt someone. Maybe you feel unappreciated or taken advantage of or have realized a certain ministry isn’t working well for you or your family.
Believers lose heart in ministry for any number of reasons. What’s important is that we realize the only solution to our weariness is the abundant mercy of God which He freely lavishes on us when we:
- Renounce the hidden things of shame (confessing and repenting of willful, persistent, and/or respectable sins).
- Not walk in craftiness or handle the Word of God deceitfully (sincerely seeing God’s wisdom as you spend time in His Word and in prayer so that any representations you make of the Truth – either in word or deed – are sound; never cherry-picking verses to meet your own needs or to get your way; humbly imparting biblical wisdom to others without harshly judging them if they do not agree with you).
- Manifesting the Truth (God is the generative source of Truth, and God is Love. To manifest the Truth is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as you love yourself. Do you know what the Love of God looks like? Do you know how to lavish it on others? You might think you do, but the only way to KNOW God’s design for love in the church is to know God Himself. Study Him, cling to Him, pray to Him, be with Him, and sincerely beg Him to grant you His wisdom in this area. After all, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom).
- Commending ourselves to every man’s conscience (realizing that convictions are not one-size-fits-all and that there is a significant difference between the principles of God – hard and fast commands that leave no room for alternate interpretation or dispute – and personal preferences – behavioral choices that fall under the umbrella of Christian liberty. And if disagreements exist as to what those gray area interpretations are, being self-righteous and judgmental is the opposite of God’s design for the church. Rather, love one another in unity and learn to understand one another’s perspective, even if you don’t or can’t agree with it. And, by all means, if your brother or sister holds a conviction that is more “strict” than yours, never encourage them to defy their conscience. Support their efforts to live a righteous life before the Lord, and forgo that which your Christian liberty affords you – for THEIR sake.)
- In the sight of God (at the end of the day, everything we say, think, do, and feel is seen by God. Are you able to say that you are blameless before Him, especially concerning your relationship with fellow believers in light of Christian liberty and differences of conviction?)
There’s no denying that being in relationship with others – especially other believers – can be difficult. Relationships are hard and require hard work.
The good news is that God is there to equip us with His perfect, abundant, providential, and lavished mercy so that if and when we lose heart our ministry to others doesn’t suffer.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me!
Until Next Time My Friends,
The Taylor of All Trades