3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
As I was studying about the armor of God today, one of the cross references led me to 2 Corinthians 6:7. Now I’m not one to just read the verse that the cross references lead me to, because I like to read the scriptures in their entire context, so that I get a clear understanding of what is being said. Therefore, I quickly discovered that in order to understand what Paul (the author of 2 Corinthians) was talking about, I needed to read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. Then, as I read this passage of scripture, it just pierced my heart, causing me to examine my heart and my commitment to the Lord, and I knew that before I could go any farther in my study of the armor of God, I needed to ponder on this passage, and share it with you, my beloved readers. Therefore, I’m just going to delve into this bit by bit, until we reach the end…
3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God.
In this second letter to the Corinthians, Paul defends is ministry and his apostleship, and you can see this in the portion of scripture that we’re studying tonight. It was as I was reading the verses above, that I began to think about both myself, and the Western church in general. When I refer to the church, I’m not speaking about the Baptist church, Methodist church, Presbyterian church, Catholic church, Evangelical church, Pentecostal church or any other denominational or non-denominational church specifically. I’m talking about all who call themselves Christians, and when I speak of ministers, I am speaking of all who are a part of church leadership.
When I read the verses above, 3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God, I had to examine myself. “Am I living in such a way that no one will stumble because of me?” I asked myself. “Am I living in such a way that no one will find fault with my ministry? Does everything I do show that I am a true minister of God?” Those are some deep questions… It makes me think of the opening statement to a song by DC Talk…
The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.
~ Brennan Manning ~
O Lord, my prayer is that You would watch over me and keep me. Order my steps, Lord, and keep me from harming others. Help me to walk uprightly so that I don’t cause anyone else to stumble, and help me to live a holy life so that I don’t shame You or the ministry that You have given me. Father, in everything I do, let it be known that I am a true minister of Yours, in Jesus’ name.
We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.
As I read Paul’s next words, again, I was forced to examine myself, and it was painful. I’ve been out of work since last September, due to chronic and acute pain, and as I read Paul’s words, knowing from my studies over the years what kind of pain Paul endured, I felt shame. Sometimes my pain is so bad, I could and do cry, and that’s not why I felt shame, because it isn’t sinful to cry when you’re in pain. The reason for my shame was in the first three words in the passage above. Do you see it? We patiently endure… Let’s look at dictionary.com for the definitions for patient and endure…
Patient – bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.
Endure – to support adverse force or influence of any kind; suffer without yielding; suffer patiently
Therein lies the reason for my shame. I have suffered hardship and pain, but not always with calm, and I must confess that I’ve become quite the complainer. I have not suffered patiently, but rather impatiently. There are times when I’ve been very curt and short-tempered because of the pain, and I know that some would say that when you’re in constant pain as I have been in, you can’t help it, but I know that isn’t true. You see, even though I’ve been in pain, I haven’t lost all self-control. When I complain and whine, I choose to do so, and since I’m being up front with you, I might as well spill it all. The whining and complaining have gotten so bad that I do it without even thinking — it has become a nasty habit with me. And there is absolutely no excuse for me to be short-tempered with anyone just because I’m in pain.
Forgive me, Lord, and create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me. Help me to walk in Your ways, Lord, and help me to be a woman after Your own heart.
6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.
Do you ever wonder why we don’t see the kind of miracles that were done in biblical times? I think about that alot. Why don’t we see them? God hasn’t changed, so if He hasn’t changed, what has changed? I hear that in Africa and in other third world countries, the Lord performs miracles quite often, so what is the difference between the men and women of God in biblical times, and the men and women of God now, in the Western world?
7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.
One sad fact is that there are very few who prove themselves by their purity like Paul. You see, many leaders within the church walk in their flesh, rather than in the Holy Spirit. Many preach a prosperity message to their followers, teaching them to “sow” into their ministry if they want the Lord to bless them with prosperity, but the only ones who seem to prosper financially from their teachings are those who preach that message, while the poor just get poorer. So many charge to come and minister, and when they come to minister, they set up tables to sell their products. Listen to me, brothers and sisters, this ought not be! Remember what Jesus did to the tables of the moneychangers, and do not allow anyone to turn the Father’s house of prayer into a den of thieves! Jesus was pure, patient, kind and filled with love for others. He didn’t ask anyone to “sow into His ministry” if they wanted a miracle, and neither should anyone else!
Paul didn’t require money in exchange for praying over handkerchiefs, like some ministers today do…
11 God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. 12 When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.
My friends, we must walk in purity, as Paul did. The leaders of the church must walk in purity. They must preach the truth, allowing God’s power to work in them. People, beware. You must not follow after someone who preaches a different gospel than what is written in the scriptures, and the only way to know whether the leaders you follow are walking in purity, led by Holy Spirit, is to know the Word of God, and have a relationship with Him, so that you too, are being led by Holy Spirit.
1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
My friends, who are you following? Don’t be fooled just because one leader has more education than another leader. Talk to Jesus, study God’s Word, ask Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and discernment. Follow the leader who is most Christ-like, and examine your own life. How Christ-like are you? Are you religious, but filled with anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, or envy? Are you righteous? Or are you self-righteous?
Do you serve God no matter what people think of you? Or are you an undercover Christian? Do you try to please God? Or do you try to please people? What are you willing to sacrifice for God? Anything? Everything? Something? Nothing?
8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
Do you seek spiritual riches? Or are you seeking monetary riches? Do you know what it is to have joy in the midst of pain? Seek the Lord with all your heart, brothers and sisters! Don’t settle for monetary gain rather than spiritual riches…
34 Then, calling the crowd to join His disciples, He said, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Cheryl A. Showers