Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.2 Corinthians 4:1
All through this passage Paul has repeated this theme:
We do not get discouraged;
We do not feel like quitting;
We are confident;
We are encouraged. I meet many Christians who are discouraged today. A pastor who came from a church in a different locality said that a few years ago he assessed his ministry. He looked about him at what was regarded as a successful church. He had a good attendance, the financial situation was clear, and yet he said that every morning he felt a severe sense of failure and emptiness in what he was doing. Increasingly he felt that he was going through religious motions, that he was accomplishing nothing of any real and lasting value.
I find many Christians who are ready to quit, feeling that they are not achieving anything. But when you talk with them, you discover that they do not see themselves as Paul did, as being the instrument of God at work. They are focusing on what they are doing for God, or, as they feel at the moment, what they are not doing for God. They do not seem to understand the basis for this ministry that Paul speaks of that he calls the
new covenant, the new arrangement for living, which God has provided in Christ.
In these verses, the apostle gives us two great reasons the new covenant does not allow for discouragement. Here is his first reason, found in the first half of verse 2:
We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's Word. He says,
We have turned our backs on the ways and practices that bring discouragement. That is why he did not get discouraged. I am always amazed at how up-to-date the Scriptures are. You would think that Paul had just been listening to some Christian radio broadcasts or television programs when he wrote this. Evidently there were people in his day preaching in churches and evangelizing who were practicing disgraceful, underhanded ways. They were relying on cunning approaches and even tampering with the Word of God. Paul says,
I have given all that up (if he were ever even guilty of this).
He tells us what he does instead:
By setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 4:2b). That is why Paul does not get discouraged. He does not have to think through some new gimmick that will get people out to hear the good news. He knows that truth is the most exciting and attractive thing in the world. He knows that when you come to people with the truth about themselves, about their lives, and about the world in which they live, when you strip off all the veils of illusion and the delusions by which people in any generation live and reveal the basic reality of what is there, then you get instant attention.
Lord, thank You that I do not have to be discouraged You are at work, using the simple truth of Your Word, to expose the hearts of those around me. Help me to trust in You.
Where and how can we strip off all the veils of illusions and delusions to see the truth about ourselves, about our lives, and about the world in which we live?