Read 2 Corinthians 4
Present Weakness and Resurrection Life
1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
As we read the beginning of 2 Corinthians 4, Paul’s devotion to Jesus and the Corinthians is reinforced, even as he exposes potential discouragement in his ministry. Twice encouraging the readers of his letter with “do not lose heart”, Paul reveals his heart and his motivation. It is because of God’s mercy that Paul faithfully serves, even when faced with indifference to the gospel. Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us) that the power of the gospel sheds light in the darkness and Christ’s light in and through us. Paul continues to underscore that a life devoted to Jesus is of great value. His description of this great treasure, Jesus, carried in jars of clay paints a vivid picture of God’s grace and mercy entrusting us, broken folks, with the life changing truth of the gospel. The power of this gospel is all about God, not the vessels.
Paul’s message to not lose heart is further developed by acknowledging that he has faced affliction, persecution, and perplexing situations but has not been demoralized or abandoned by God. His hope is that this points others to the risen Jesus resulting in glory to God and more people to be reached by the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul challenges his readers, then and now, to adopt an eternal perspective toward our afflictions and weaknesses. He encourages us to turn our focus to what is eternal rather than the temporary.
Throughout this letter, it is evident that Paul’s focus, life, and ministry is centered around proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is all about Jesus! May the same be true for us as followers of Jesus. Even as flawed and cracked vessels, His treasure held within us shines through the indwelling power of Christ. Maintaining our focus on Jesus and surrendering to Him will allow us to face trouble, opposition, and distress without despair, but with assurance that it cannot compare to the eternal weight of glory to come. Like Paul, let’s not give up!
- What tempts you to lose heart in your service to Christ?
- How have you experienced the light of Christ shining in and through your life?
- How can you recalibrate your focus today from temporary things to things of eternal value?