Daily Devotional with Dr. Charles Stanley @ InTouch.org
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The Fruit of Perseverance
Read | 2 Corinthians 4:1-18
The apostle Paul often wrote about perseverance. He urged believers not to tire of following Christ and doing good, even when persecuted. The reason was that in time, their faithfulness to plant seeds would produce an amazing harvest.
If anyone had a right to say that, it was Paul. He’d been beaten, stoned, whipped, and driven out of town. He’d survived riots, shipwrecks, illness, and abandonment. He had a thousand reasons to be disheartened and want to give up, yet he knew his obedience to God wasn’t in vain. Some might surmise, Well, it doesn’t look as if he reaped much: he was persecuted, moved from prison to prison, and eventually executed. But if we assume that rewards come only in material terms, we miss a powerful truth.
Consider the awesome harvest that actually resulted from the apostle’s faithfulness. For one thing, the gospel spread across the Roman Empire, and the early church grew far beyond the Jewish world. And the seeds Paul planted by writing his epistles resulted in billions of lives being radically changed. Any strength we draw from these letters is fruit of the hardships he endured. Yet when he urged believers never to tire of obeying the Lord, he didn’t know the full extent of the impact his life would have. He just believed in the power of faith.
Do you realize how impactful your life is? Don’t be deceived by Satan’s lie that your suffering or obedience will amount to nothing. Here’s the truth: Your faithfulness to God never goes to waste–it’s making an eternal difference in someone’s life, whether you know it or not.
2 Corinthians 4 (NKJV)
The Light of Christ’s Gospel
4 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Cast Down but Unconquered
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.
13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Seeing the Invisible
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.