How should a minister of Christ lives in the midst of weaknesses? In this part of the book, we will refer trials, diseases, difficulties, persecutions, and insults as weaknesses because these things can cause us to get discouraged and weak.
In our context, Paul is still defending his ministries. And for this he mentioned about his personal encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ in the road to Damascus (v.1-5).
Please note that he used a third person in describing what he had experienced. This is probably to avoid offending the recipients of this letter or in somehow will not literally boast of what he had experienced. This is a common pattern of discussion among the people in their time.
What are the things that could make a minister of Christ weaker? And how can this turn out to be a something that can glorify God?
In Frailty of The Body – Refers to physical weaknesses as to diseases and disabilities. There are times that we suffer from different ailments and diseases. For some they recognize such things as curse. While for Paul he recognizes it as an opportunity to rejoice.
Some of our sicknesses are caused by sins while some are simply trials that we have to overcome.
In most cases, whenever someone is sick, there he remembers God. They come humbly to the Lord to ask for a favor to be healed. But sad to know that, many of us only remember God when we are sick.
There are even times that we don’t care if we are sick, but if someone whom we love so much is sick, we will do all kinds of promises to the Lord just for Him to heal our love one.
But this is not what God wants in us. We are supposed to be consistent in coming to God whether we are sick or not. This is why sometimes, becoming sick is a great advantage because we remember God. We remember that God is in control of everything.
It is honorable if we get sick because of our service to God and not because we are sinning.
In our passage, Paul has this thorn in the flesh. He pleaded to the Lord several times but the Lord did not take it away. Yet, Paul did not stop worshiping and serving God for God’s grace is sufficient for him.
In Insults – Have you been insulted because you read the Bible? Did someone ridicule you for being godly? How about when someone insulted you because you did what is right apart from what they are doing? Paul suffered from all kinds of insults and ridicules because he chose to follow Christ.
There are times we face the insults of others because we just don’t want to do the wrong things. But even when we experience these kinds of insults, it is very important that we stand on our ground of doing what is upright in the eyes of God.
Darkness has nothing to do with light, nor evil with godliness, so the children of God with the children of the devil (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)
Sometimes, these insults can deeply discourage us to do what is upright in the eyes of God. In contrast, we are to take it as something encouraging because it is biblical that a Christian will suffer all these things. And blessed are those who were insulted because of Christ.
1 Peter 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
The Greek word that was used to describe “on their part he is evil spoken of”, is “blasphemeo” or blasphemy. It is not you whom they are insulting, but t is Christ. And they are not just simply sinned but blasphemed.
Lastly, being insulted for the name of Christ is not something to grieve on because it simply means that you bear the Spirit of glory and of God, who is the Spirit of God rests upon you.
In Necessities – What is troubling us right now? Is there something or someone who is troubling us? Is it our daily needs? Is it our relationship? Is it our business? We can probably mention hundreds of things that can really trouble us.
The Bible say in Matthew 6:34 “So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.” The context of this passage is about Jesus teaching the people not to worry on needs.
Please note that Jesus is not teaching not to work or not to care of the needs, but He is teaching that we should not be worrying on it.
People’s tendency when facing a great need is to panic, to lose faith, to forget other things and focus on this great need. Unfortunately, there are times that the most convenient to forget is God. We stop coming to Church because we need to work, we stop coming to prayer meeting because we are tired, we don’t want Bible studies because we are busy, we stop worshiping God on Sundays because that’s the only time to rest to as we try the whole week meeting these needs.
On the contrary, we are supposed to come to God and give up all our needs to Him. To allow Him to take over those needs, He’s the great provider, the source of everything. He is the owner of the great City of Gold in Heaven.
Isn’t it ironic that we need something yet we neglect the source of everything? There are times that we experience all these needs for us to glorify God. Our needs are supposed to glorify God and not that us take over those needs.
In Persecutions – Persecutions are very common to Christians especially to new Christians. This is why Paul already reminded us in Ephesians to wear the full of armor of God for we are not battling in flesh and blood, but to spiritual forces of darkness, principalities and authorities, etc.
Not so long ago, tribes in India persecuted the Christians in their country. Houses burned, people killed, women raped and what not, all these they suffered because they are Christians.
In China and Vietnam, Christians were imprisoned because they just want to worship God. In Middle East, Christians were being murdered just because they are the “infidels” of Allah. Yet, those Christians out there were faithful and persevered all the more in worshiping God.
Here in the Philippines, we have all the freedom to worship our Lord. The persecution that we are receiving from our relatives and friends were not as violent as it is in other places. Yet, there are times that it seems like we are more persecuted than others because we easily give up the faith that we are holding in Christ Jesus.
Iganatius of Antioch (AD 50-117), one of the early Church fathers, in captivity wrote a letter to the church in Rome begging them not to arrange for his release to prove his being a disciple. Martyrdom in their time is sin e qua non (or “essential” quality”) of being a true disciple in their period.
Paul himself was martyred but never recants his Christianity even in the pain of persecutions. Polycarp of Smyrna martyred at AD 156 because he never abandoned the true faith in the midst of persecutions.
William Tyndale strangled and burned at stake. We even have John Wycliffe the first who translate the Latin Vulgate into English. His dead body exhumed after 21 years just to be burned because he was declared heretic for being against the pope and translating the Bible into English.
There are hundreds and perhaps thousands of Christians died because of persecutions especially during the time of papal inquisition. And sometimes for us who has benefited their zealousness put that faith in vain. They died because they passed on the faith which we are enjoying right now. But where are we compared to them?
For just one and a half hour in 168 hours in a week, we cannot just sit, keep silent forgetting all our text mates, forgetting our businesses, forgetting our concern to world in exchange of something that is of value, of someone who created us. It seems to be a huge burden for us my brethrens to focus to our Lord in just one and a half hours. And nobody is persecuting us yet.
In Difficulties (as to calamities) – Almost all of us have experienced calamities in life. Death of a father or mother, huge lost in business, our house destroyed because of typhoon, flood, soil erosion, etc. We can definitely identify those great calamities that we have in our life.
There are times that it was a self made calamity, and sometimes it’s just simply the “Acts of God” where we really don’t possess its control.
Calamity is one of the most natural things that happen in life. And sometimes, these calamities are just so huge that it is very hard to accept. This is why there are people who stop believing God because they question God for what happened. This is very common to happen when we lost someone that we love so much.
In contrast to this, God wants us to stick with Him in the midst of these calamities. It is just but a natural part of life. It’s painful, yes, but it is not the end. We have to move on and pursue righteousness. We need to continue to depend on God.
Job in the midst of the great calamities in life, he lost his business, he lost his properties, he lost his children, he lost his wife (in the faith), and he lost his friends. He continued worshiping God, nonetheless.
How about us? Where shall we go in the midst of calamities of life?
There are lots of things that can cause our faith to weaken. But in contrast to this, Paul is actually teaching us that those weaknesses can actually be used for God’s glory. If we continue to follow God, our faith is all the more strengthened, and that God is all the more glorified.