“The Temptation to Lose Heart”
Speaker: CJ Mahaney
Text: 2 Corinthians 4
Title: The Sustaining Power of the Gospel
I always find CJ to be an immensely pastoral type speaker (with a tendency to wander off the beaten track from time to time!) and this message was no different. His basic premise was to encourage the Christian, “not to lose heart in the face of opposition and/or suffering”. How many of us are often tempted to give up the fight in the heat of ministry? How many of us feel the effects of temptation? How easy it is to lose our hearts for pastoral ministry. Many think it only happens to those who struggle to see fruit, but it is also a danger with those who are ‘successful’ and yet, inexplicably, have no joy in it. What do we do when “drawing near to God” just sounds twee? CJ offered us four “heart strengthening” strategies from the text.
1. Remember the call of Christian ministry. In v1 we read the phrase, “in having this ministry”. Paul had the ministry of gospel proclamation. It is that which constantly caused him to push on. Simply, each of us should stick to what God has called us to – namely gospel proclamation. Vv4-6 show us how the Corinthians were a living example of Paul’s call. Likewise, we have been called to those without hope, blinded by Satan and living in schemes.
As we proclaim HIM, He gives sight to them!
We must not forget to strengthen the hearts of believers and fellow workers in our context. Don’t beat people down – encourage them! Because we have this message of light, we must not give up and lose heart.
2. We remember God’s mercy. We must never forget what God has done for us in Christ! In our darkest moments this is the first thing we tend to forget. Yet, we are where we are because of His mercy and grace and not because of our cleverness or abilities.
We have been entrusted with the gospel and in HIS mercy, HE dispels the darkness, and sinners repent.
Remember 2 Corinthians 4, keep it in view and don’t forget your congregation. Don’t just focus on the lost and all the nut jobs around you! Don’t forget to help your people remember their salvation!
3. The condition of Christian ministry (Vv6-13). Paul knew that ministry was tough. He knew that serving was about suffering as much as it was about proclamation. He details some of these problems in Vv8-9. We know this for ourselves in this ministry! We should never seek to romanticise this kind of ministry (the whole ‘ministry to the poor’ trend irritates me!) because it is brutal. If this type of suffering is not happening to you, then hang on because it will be coming – guaranteed!
When you cannot trace his hands you must learn to trust his heart.
We all have difficult seasons in ministry but we trust that the Lord has a grand design and we must learn to seek how God can use our trials as an opportunity to show forth his glory and his grace (v7). We must trust that God is at work in all of life’s situations.
Remember, dying, suffering pastors, pastor fruitful congregations.
4. Maintain an eternal perspective (Vv16-18). Keep the end in mind. The future belongs to God no matter how messed up the present appears to be. There is ultimately no comparison between the suffering we face now and the eternal glory that is to come.