PURPOSE OF HEART
Not Losing Heart!
The Apostle Paul, in his second recorded letter to the Corinthians, tells them not to lose heart. According to verse one of the fourth chapter, this is because we have received mercy from God. This mercy has come through the man Jesus Christ who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Regardless of what the Apostle Paul would face in his life, his treasure was not in himself or his earthly vessel; rather, it was in the power of God. Therefore, he spoke of Christ Jesus and Him crucified to all those that would listen. The goal of Paul was to get this message out regardless of the hardship that would come upon him. Then the glory of God could abound not only in himself but also in others. He states, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Paul did not lose heart in his ministry. There are many reasons that he could have. Despite these many reasons, his faith and desire to serve God and bring glory to His name only strengthened day by day. He recognized that he was a perishing man. As the outward man was perishing, he was strengthened day by day because of what was happening to his inward being. His inward being was refreshed because of the eternity of glory that awaited. He was growing as a Christian. His soul was refreshed day by day. It is easy to lose hope as the outward being grows old and deteriorates. Man comes to the realization that the body will soon decease. Yet for the Christian—as Paul points out—the inward man should be thriving. This is because of what is at stake following death.
With the idea of being refreshed, Paul points to light affliction. This is an incredible statement considering what Paul faced as he preached Christ Jesus and Him crucified. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-30, the apostle speaks to some of his suffering as a servant of Christ. He notes that he was beaten with rods, whipped, stoned, ship wrecked and in numerous perils. Yet, Paul did not lose focus as a devout Christian. He was not one to get back at another. He did not hold grudges and deny others the gospel because of the physical, emotional and mental pain. He pressed forward as a faithful follower. He spoke of the same hope in Christ Jesus that he was given: The hope of eternal peace in heaven through obedience to God. The light affliction worked something far greater. The pain and agony of this life will be of a small cost for the life of eternal glory.
With this affliction in mind, Paul did not look to those things which are seen. His focus was not the materialistic things of earth or a position of power or esteem. He looked at that which could not be seen. That is eternity. All that can be seen by the eye now is what will perish. It is temporary and one day will be gone. All things deteriorate. Paul knew all things around him including his own person one day would be gone. This truth applies today. Everything is deteriorating including our outward being. Time is short for those things that can be seen. That which cannot be seen has no ending point.
It is my prayer, as we serve Christ, that we do not lose heart. Great challenges will come upon us. Many will face personal challenges. Most will face medical challenges. We all face challenges from those that deny the way of God. Can we live life calling all these things a light affliction? I believe it can be done. However, if the mind is not on things eternal, the heart can quickly be lost. In Christ Jesus, we have eternal hope of peace and joy if we are obedient to Him. We will not escape our time on this earth. It will eventually come to an end. Are we living to focus on the unseen of eternity or the things that are seen and temporal?
Scott is the minister at the Elm Grove Church of Christ. Meeting times are Sunday at 9:30 a.m. for Bible class and 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. for worship. Mid-week Bible study is on Wednesday at 6:30p.m. Please visit our website at elmgrovechurchofchrist.org. He invites any questions or comments and love to sit down and study. He can be reached at the Elm Grove Church of Christ at 740-493-2451.