August 30 - Do not Lose Heart
It is so easy to be discouraged and lose heart. The heart is the commanding faculty of one’s life and if lose it, we would lose courage to go on. The Chinese versions translate this as losing one’s gall bladder. The gall bladder juice is supposed to give courage to a person and a timid person is one who does not have a gall bladder. No matter what cultural orientation one has, we all come into discouragement sometimes and we must face it head on.
Paul had experiences of discouragement all the time. His major objective was to preach Christ to as many as possible. He was armed with the gospel of good news that could transform lives but the gospel was veiled to those who were perishing. For those who are seeking success in ministry, it would drive them to other means of preaching the Word of God. So Paul renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways, he refused to practice cunning or to tamper with the Word of God to fit the ears of the listeners. He maintained his integrity even in the midst of difficulties.
On the other hand, Paul recognized that the opposition was not simply from human but from the spiritual enemy, the god of this world as he put it. Satan has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the gospel of the glory of Christ. Such opposition is to be tackled in prayer and spiritual warfare. If the minds of unbelievers were veiled, Paul then went one level up, to appeal to the human spirit, i.e. the human conscience in the sight of God. This he did by shining the light of Christ in his heart. The light of God, shining through him could bring in the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ so others may know of the reality of Christ.
The treasure and jars of clay concept is about the glory of God being revealed in a human body. Our bodies are like jars of clay but deep within, we have the surpassing power of God. Even as we face death, we are not discouraged. As Paul says: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” As we carry the death of Christ in our bodies, the life of Christ may then be manifested. It is by such glory that others see the face of Christ in us. So when death is at work in our bodies, life can begin to work in others.
Do you know that if you refuse to be discouraged even as you face afflictions, perplexity, being crushed, persecuted and being struck down, others can then fathom the glory of Christ in you? This is evangelizing the human spirit through the Christ in you. If God is alive, nothing that ever happens can deter your heart towards God. Use your adversity to the glory of God now.
Ps 96:1-6 Job 34:1-36:33 2 Cor 4:1-12 Prov 22:10-12