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TO CHEW ON: "But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God…" 2 Corinthians 6:4
The Bible contains many lists.
Some we love to read and meditate on, like:
- The qualities of God's word - Psalm 19:7-11.
- The benefits of being one of Jesus' sheep - Psalm 23:1-6.
- The characteristics of love - 1 Corinthians 13.
- The fruit of the Spirit - Galatians 5:22-23.
Other lists are negative—things to avoid:
- The works of the flesh - Galatians 5:19-21.
- Life attitudes that will land us in a bad place at the final judgment - Revelation 21:8.
In our reading today we have several more lists:
Paul lists the qualities that he has tried to live out as a minister of the gospel (2 Corinthians 6:4,6):
- patience (endurance).
He also lists the experiences he has gone through (2 Corinthians 6:4,5 see also 2 Corinthians 11:22-33):
- stripes (beatings).
- tumult (riots).
He lists the sources of his strength (2 Corinthians 6:6,7):
- the Holy Spirit.
- the word of truth.
- the power of God.
- the armour of righteousness.
Finally, he lists dichotomies (contrasts) that he experiences in his life (2 Corinthians 6:8-10):
- honour and dishonour.
- the subject of evil reports and good reports.
- called a deceiver, yet speaking the truth.
- unknown (obscure) yet well-known.
- dying yet alive.
- chastened yet not killed.
- sorrowful but happy.
- poor yet making many rich.
- having nothing yet possessing all things.
In addition to being a matter of interest, these lists of Paul's can be a benefit to us. How about another list to name some ways:
- They give us a realistic picture of what we signed up for when we accepted Christ and became fellow ministers of the gospel.
- They show us the extremes and contradictions of a life given to God—the bad and the good, the downs and the ups, the reason we can experience joy in the middle of trouble, feel rich even when we're poor in material things.
- When we experience something similar to what Paul did, we are reassured that persecution, trouble, being misunderstood etc. are nothing new; it's what Christians across the millennia have gone through.
- When life is easy and we don't experience any of these things, we know that either the gospel we're presenting has lost something along the way, that we've perverted it so it no longer has the edge that makes it controversial to the world.
we're in a blessing bubble that may well burst one of these days, exposing us to the harsh and blessed realities of the Christian life as it has always been.
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to take courage from Paul's lists that hard things are not unusual, and that You are with me and in me, taking me through the trials of this life. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.