Many of us as believers find ourselves at odds with the secular world as we grow deeper in the Lord and walk in submission to the Spirit. The things that use to bring us happiness now grow cold when compared to the joy found in our Savior. I came across a few passages in 2 Corinthians that made some amazing points. Let’s look at the background and then make God’s word through Paul applicable to us today.
Paul was originally a persecutor of the faith. So not only was his message looked down upon as he spread the gospel, but the people also used his previous position to question his character and authenticity. Imagine the difficulty Paul faced being rejected personally and then having his message rejected as he traveled to share the good news. We all face the same issue after we find our value in the Lord. Not only are our beliefs questioned but the life Jesus turned us from stays with us as a stigma. People think we are hypocrites because they don’t yet understand the power in the blood of Christ. Let’s look at three passages that pulled at my heart and see how Paul walked in this. Let’s learn for him.
For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12)
This is beautiful. People can question what you believe, but when you are walking in and led by the Spirit you are without fault in what you present. You bring the simplicity and godly sincerity of God’s Word and the good news of Jesus. The goal is not to rely on earthly wisdom (watered down Christ) to draw people but to let God be God while you plant His seeds. The harvest belongs to the Lord. It is because of this that Paul can have a clear ‘testimony of conscience’ when people question what he professes to the lost.
Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No? (2 Corinthians 1:17)
Here we find Paul explaining his presentation of the gospel and innocence in seeking acceptance from his actions. He makes the people aware that his explanation of the Gospel isn’t intended to gratify his flesh through praise for him. It is from the Spirit and focuses the glory to God. The reactions of the listeners is not a priority to a believer. We are called to be an example in a dark world. Our light should not dim when the environment we walk in stays dark. We reflect the light of God without apology and should accept the same rejection that our Savior received if that’s the result of our walk.
Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9)
This passage came before the others in the Word, but was kept until last as a summation which says it all. As children of the living God we can present His word and represent Him in our actions without worry. His Word is true, everlasting and unchanging. The reaction of the lost belongs to them and the transformation of their hearts belongs to the Lord. We should reflect God’s light through the guidance of His Word and Spirit never using our own wisdom which waters down His perfect power. His power is manifest in our weakness and submission. Your walk is with your Lord and the opinions that walk incites are the fuel that glorifies God and makes Him shine brighter. You be the vessel and let God be God! In that there is no fault.
As the multitude followed Jesus, it was recorded twice that He stopped and provided for them so that they would not parish in their pursuit of Him and His truth. (Jesus feeds the 5000 –> Matthew 14:13-21) When our focus is on God and serving Him He will provide for us in our faith. Jesus made this clear in the way He provided for those seeking Him. And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12:29-31)
The problem occurs when people seek that they want over what God is looking to provide. In our sinfulness we lean toward self-sufficiency and self-guidance. We walk a path we have designed in our own power and look to God for the provision to help us along our own fallen path. We can fall away from fear and anxiety when we realign ourselves with the plan God has for us. We have to realize that we were designed for a Godly purpose. God’s provision is meant to supply us for that walk. Our following of Jesus allows us to appreciate that what we have been provided is more than we need. God will provide excess so that the overflowing of His provision can be showered upon those around us. One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much (Luke 16:10) When God sees you walking faithfully in union with Jesus using His provision to accomplish what God has laid before you. He will multiply that provision so that your walk can continue in greater ways.
Don’t look to God for the worldly things you want, but instead ask Him to give you what He desires you to have. This will insure that your path is His, your desires are His desires, your will is His will, and all glory belongs to God the Father through a life transformed through salvation in and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ.
How many times have you wondered as a believer how people who deny and defy God seem to somehow never fall? We see wealthy people who go to any means to increase their financial position. We see bosses who treat people terribly and still get promoted. This should never detour us. We should focus on what the Lord has for us and not compare ourselves to others. They are meant to walk a path far different from ours. The thought does leave us curious though. I was always of the opinion that some people need a bigger fall in order to submit to God. They needed to take a bigger loss to lose dependence on earthly things and seek the eternal. I still believe that is true for many but another thought came to me. What if the deceiver bestows earthly gifts to create the sense of dependence that drives people from God? What if the deceiver provides so many earthly things that people accept idols over God? Maybe an atheist billionaire is the deceiver’s way of convincing those who are weak in faith that they don’t need God, that this world is enough to satisfy the yearnings of our hearts. God leaves the emptiness in our hearts in order that it might be filled by Him. It makes sense that the deceiver would use this common trait to attack with false fulfillment. Is the deceiver clever enough to try and use the finite things of this earth to draw us away from the eternal fulfillment of God? Is it possible that satan would try and bless us away from our Savior? When we examine the extent at which he tempts man in defiance of the true God I don’t see why this clever tactic wouldn’t also be used. Don’t be drawn away by earthly idols and this darkened world. Let the light of God light the path that He created for you before the beginning of time and find your life in the eternal things that will last as sin and the gifts of the devil fade into nothingness when Christ comes to take us home.
God has a plan for all who are obedient to His guidance. The plans and blessings God has prepared for those who are faithful to staying His course are far beyond our imagination. One of the most difficult aspects to walking in God’s light and taking Him by His right hand is that those who have hardened their hearts and choose to dwell outside of God’s light will never understand this walk. Being selfless, joyful, at peace, and confident make the lost question the sanity of a mind focused on the things that are eternal. God’s plan will not always be clear to those who stay in the shadow of earthly sin. Faith allows a believer to be steadfast in the provision of our God. We must accept the responsibility that comes with a knowledge of Jesus and the indwelling of the Spirit of God. God’s people must harness the power available in the Holy Spirit and become leaders of the lost, a guide toward the light of God and His path. We are only able to rightfully lead when we are rightfully lead by God. A real leader must see the goal before those who are meant to follow. Be a reflection of God’s light and a beacon in this dark world.