Did you know that if you are a Christian that you have a ministry? We all have a story to tell to others about the good things God has done for us in our lives. We all have the ability to communicate whether through speaking, writing, or sign language. So we can tell anyone who asks us why we are saved and what we are saved from! Remember what the Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us why we hope, but he also reminds us to be gentle and respectful when we do speak to those without Christ as their Savior. So the question I want to ask you is what type of ministry do you have? What will non-Christians see about you that’s different? Is there a difference in the way that you conduct your life in comparison to the lost of this world? I like the passage we will be studying today because it talks about this very subject.
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 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. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 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. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” 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.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 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. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 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. 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. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 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, 2 Corinthians 4:1-18, (New International Version or NIV).
This passage begins by painting a picture of what a Christian’s life and ministry should look like. We are to not get discouraged because there will be times that we make mistakes. We are to continue reminding ourselves that we are under the mercy and grace of God through Christ Jesus. We are human, we are jars of clay, yet we hold the most precious treasure because we house the Holy Spirit, God lives inside of us! Can you fathom that? What a blessing to know that we are not on our own, but that the source of the universe, the power of the ages, lives within us! So there are some things that our lives should reflect. First of all, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; and that means that we don’t do some things that we used to do, we don’t think about some things we used to think about, we have a renewed spirit and a clean mind (Romans 12:2). Pornography has got to go, self-centeredness has got to go, worries about this life has got to go, sexual immorality has got to go! Get the picture? Secondly, we do not use deception, which means that as a part of our newness in Christ we don’t lie and tell half-truths to anyone any more. We are to be honest and have integrity in our speech, in our business dealings, in our personal relationships, in everything that we do! Finally, nor do we distort the word of God, which means that we have to know the word of God in order not to distort it. We must study the Bible and understand what it says and apply it to our lives and constantly check our life to be sure that we are not bending it to fit our mood or our struggle. This is a pretty hefty and weighty list of how we are to live as Christians.
Have you ever wondered why non-Christians can’t seem to understand what you are talking about when you try to discuss the things of God with them? This passage tells us why that happens. Satan is the god of this world and he has blinded the mind of non-believers so that they can’t see the truth of who Jesus Christ is. Do you see this in the passage? Satan doesn’t want those who are lost to know that they are lost and going to Hell. Our job, as earthen vessels, is to let the light of Jesus shine so brightly that we thaw the cold icy hearts of the lost and let the light melt away their blindness so that the non-Christian can begin to see the truth of who Jesus is and why they need Him. Satan doesn’t make our job easy though. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Ever felt that kind of pressure in your life? I have, many times. It is when I read this passage that I am encouraged to realize that it isn’t anyone other than Satan working through people I come into contact with that cause me such difficulties. Knowing this truth helps me to know how to fight the foe (Satan) and not the person. Paul and many of the first century Christians carried the scars on their bodies for their faith in Christ Jesus because they were tortured many times just because they were Christians. I am thankful that I haven’t had to go through what they went through. But today all across the world there are Christians who do bear the scars of Christ and we must never cease to pray for them to not lost their faith or give up their hope in Christ Jesus.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Paul and the other apostles and the many Christians down through the centuries for keeping the faith and passing it on to where we can have such hope today. It was their faithfulness in preserving the Good News of Jesus Christ that enables us to know that God loves us and want to show mercy and grace to us today. It was because people like Paul did not distort the word of God that we know the truth today and we have an obligation to do the same for the generations that come behind us. How do we do this? The same way that Paul did, we keep studying, keep telling others the Good News, and we remain a faithful light shining in the darkened world. We are clay jars, not really all that important as vessels go but we have a treasure that far exceeds the riches of this world housed within our clay jars. We know that we will die just as a clay jar will eventually wear out, but because of the treasure of God’s love, mercy, and grace we will live on for ever and ever into eternity. So I ask you again, how does your ministry look? Are you guarding the treasure? Are you sharing the treasure? Are you telling your friends and family and others about the beautiful treasure that you have and how they can have that treasure also? I hope so…keep shining Christian.