Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1-5
“Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this” [2 Corinthians 4:1-2 NLT]
The word “therefore” [verse 1] directly links 2 Corinthians chapter 3 and chapter 4. Paul’s ministry and message is the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ that makes us right with God, brings us freedom, and transforms the way we live. This message is so much more glorious than the old covenant message of the law [2 Corinthians 3:6]. Paul continues to write about how he ministers this wonderful message, and in particular emphasizes three key principles:
Firstly, Paul had this ministry because of God’s mercy. Any ministry that we might have is totally because of God’s mercy. God’s mercy is God giving us what we don’t deserve. God had entrusted Paul with this ministry and because it was God’s mercy and favour he wanted to make it clear that there was no place for arrogance or self-confidence.
Secondly, Paul had to be utterly honest and truthful in the way that he handled God’s Word. Paul says that he didn’t trick people or distort God’s Word. The ESV uses the phrase, “We refuse…. to tamper with God’s Word.” This was a word used of wine merchants who diluted their wares and watered them down. The Greek word is ‘Doloo’ which means to adulterate, or to mix human traditions with the pure word of the Gospel. It is God’s Word that is most powerful in touching the human heart. Billy Graham is known for his straight preaching of the Gospel and constantly using the phrase, “The Bible says…” When he was a young student at Wheaton College he was confused by so many Biblical interpretations. One day he went into the woods, knelt on his Bible and prayed, “Lord I will believe and will preach this book just as it is.” The fruit of his ministry over so many years is a result of that commitment!
Thirdly, Paul never gave up in ministering this wonderful gospel. A good translation is, “We faint not” [NKJV]. The Greek word here is ekkakoumen, meaning to lose one’s courage; to be disheartened, to give up because of difficulties. Paul was undeterred by difficulties. He did lose his purpose because of persecution or his strength fail in the many trials he faced. He had every incentive to give up, but God’s mercy and grace sustained him.
It was said that one of Winston Churchill’s most powerful speeches was at a Harrow Boy’s School prize giving. It consisted of five words, “Never! Never! Never give up.
In what way are these three principles relevant for us today in whatever ministry or work God has given us to do?
Have you ever felt like giving up? What caused this and what was it that kept you going and enabled you to continue serving God?