11. We should not expect our lives to match the glory of the gospel in respect to our strength, but rather to manifest the glory of the gospel in our weakness. (2 Cor.4:7-12) Others may look down on us because we are not impressive. We may long for superhero strength in ministry – every spiritual gift, perfect life, abundant tangible blessing, being liked by everyone, etc. But the treasure that we have is held in jars of clay. Unimpressive, weak, fragile, often cracked and inadequate. Life is worked into others as death seems to reign in our experience. These are key verses for us in ministry. How often do we feel afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, physically weak, struggling to sleep, discouraged from every angle? Yet we are not crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, destroyed, or finished. Just as Jesus was given over to death for the sake of others, so that is our privilege in ministry.
12. The challenges of life tempt us to be silent, but trusting we speak. (2 Cor.4:13-15) As we experience the trappings of death in our bodies, in our emotions, in our circumstances, in our ministry experience, so we are tempted to be silent, but instead, we speak. Why? Because we trust the God who raised Jesus from death to do the same with us. We give ourselves as servants in proclaiming Christ, even at the cost of our lives, confident that God will raise both us, and those that He reached through our ministry. What a day that will be! So we may feel like we are being spent and extinguished, but God’s grace is extending to more and more people. As more thank God for the gospel, so God is more glorified, and we are satisfied that He is worth it.
13. We are encouraged, not by externals, but by the lasting internal reality. (2 Cor.4:16-18) Sometimes we can grow discouraged internally because of all the struggles externally. Many do burn out, and this is very different than be spent for Christ. Let us pray that we can discern the wonder of what God is seeking to do in our inner selves day by day. The expenditure and investment of life now is actually preparing an eternal weight of glory that will never bear any comparison to the cost to us in this life. One day we will see the eternal fruit of our weak and simple ministry of grace in this life. We will see the lasting treasure that is invisible now, but is more real than anything we see in this life.
Next time we will venture in to chapter 5.