THE ENDURANCE OF FAITH
Lord of all, I pray for an open mind and a willing spirit, so that I might learn your truth and share it.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 4:13-18
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[a] Since we have that same spirit of[b] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 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. 15 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.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’1
This passage begins and ends with faith. Faith is the ability to trust in that which we cannot see or touch, but which we are confident is both true and real (v 18). Faith is not therefore, as some claim, an illusory trust in that for which we have no evidence. Rather, the evidence is that God has raised Jesus from the dead (v 14) and is therefore able to do the impossible, to bring life from death.
When we consider all the troubles Paul had to endure (and we are not yet through), it is amazing to us that he did not just give up. Reliable tradition tells us that he would finally crown it all as a martyr in Rome in about AD 64. Yet he could have avoided all that suffering by opting for an easy life, perhaps by continuing to make his living as a prosperous tent-maker. Most of us have our limits, but apparently not Paul. He endured, and in this passage we see why and how.
It helped that he was seeing progress in his work. More and more people (v 15) were being reached by God’s grace. In Troas he had found an open door for the gospel2 – only his anxiety about Titus and Corinth led him to leave. More converts meant more thanksgiving and glory for God. His sufferings were not in vain. Most of all, however, he was inspired because he could see a future reality, unseen in the present but prefigured in the resurrection, a vision of future glory that would abundantly outweigh all present troubles. By contrast, all these were light and momentary (v 17). Imagining this glorious God-given future can inwardly renew us (v 16) and constantly impassion us. It is not beginning the race only but completing it that really matters.
‘And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.’3
Dear Lord, above all else, I want to finish the race strongly. I praise you for the assurance that one day I will dwell in your house forever.
1 2 Tim 4:7 2 2 Cor 2:12 3 Heb 12:1,2
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