Treasure in Perishable Containers (Day 35)

Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-18
   Preachers, teachers, and anyone else who talks about Jesus Christ must remember that they stand in God’s presence: He hears every word. When you tell people about Christ, be careful not to distort the message to please your audience. Proclaim the truth of God’s Word. 
   The Gospel is revealed to everyone, except those who refuse to believe. Satan is the god of this evil world. His work is to deceive, and he has blinded those who don’t believe in Christ. The allure of money, power, and pleasure blinds people to the light of Christ’s Gospel. Those who reject Christ and prefer their own pursuits have unknowingly made Satan their god. 
   The focus of Paul’s preaching was Christ and not himself. When you witness, tell people about what Christ has done and not about your abilities and accomplishments. People must be introduced to Christ, not to you. And if you hear someone preaching about himself or his own ideas rather than about Christ, beware; he is a false teacher. 
    Paul willingly served the Corinthian church even though the people must have deeply disappointed him. Serving people requires a sacrifice of time and personal desires. Being Christ’s follower means serving others, even when they do not measure up to our expectations. 
   The supremely valuable message of salvation in Jesus Christ has been entrusted by God to frail and fallible human beings. Paul’s focus, however, was not on the perishable container but on its priceless contents; God’s power dwelling in us. Though we are weak, God uses us to spread His Gospel, and He gives us power to do His work. Knowing that the power is His, not ours, should keep us from pride and motivate us to keep daily contact with God, our power source. Our responsibility is to let people see God through us. 
   Paul reminds us that though we may think we are at the end of the rope, we are never at the end of hope. Our perishable body is subject to sin and suffering, but God never abandons us. Because Christ has won the victory over death, we have eternal life. All our risks, humiliations, and trials are opportunities for Christ to demonstrate His power and presence in and through us. 
   It is easy to give up and quit. We all have faced problems in our relationships or in our work that have caused us to think about giving up. Rather than quitting when persecution wore him down, Paul concentrated on the inner strength that came from the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3). Don’t let fatigue, pain, or criticism force you off the job. Renew your commitment to serving Christ. Don’t forsake your eternal reward because of the intensity of today’s pain. Your very weakness allows the resurrection power of Christ to strengthen you moment by moment. 
   Our troubles should not diminish our faith or disillusion us. We should realize that there is a purpose in our suffering. Problems and human limitations have several benefits: 1) They remind us of Christ’s suffering for us; 2) they keep us from pride; 3) they cause us to look beyond this brief life; 4) they give us opportunities to prove our faith to others; and 5) they give God the opportunity to demonstrate His power. See your troubles as opportunities. 
   Our ultimate hope when we are experiencing terrible illness, persecution, or pain is the realization that this life is not all there is; there is life after death. Knowing that we will live forever with God in a place without sin and suffering can help us live above the pain that we face in this life. 
   Paul had faced suffering, trials, and distress as he preached the Gospel. But he knew that they would one day be over, and he would obtain God’s rest and rewards. As we face great troubles, it’s easy to focus on the pain rather than on our ultimate goal. Just as athletes concentrate on the finish line and ignore their discomfort, we, too, must focus on the reward for our faith and the joy that lasts forever. No matter what happens to us in this life, we have the assurance of eternal life, when all suffering will end and all sorrow will flee away (Isaiah 35).