The Mark of Mercy
The Mark of Mercy
Words of Faith 9-18-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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2 Corinthians 4
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
Paul could have been deeply discouraged by the great difficulty of his life in ministry. In the flesh, certainly, almost anyone would have just quit.
Physically, the demands of Paul's ministry sometimes seemed too much for him to bear. He and his colleagues suffered in the province of Asia under great pressure, far beyond their own ability to endure, to the point that they even despaired of life. Paul was frequently imprisoned, flogged, and exposed to death many times. He was stoned, shipwrecked, and endangered by numerous adversaries. He labored and toiled often without sleep, food, or water.
No less excruciating were the spiritual demands brought on by those he served and those he opposed. He reflected on these experiences in this passage and pointed to what sustained him, namely, the power of God. But Paul also found strength in very beginning of his journey-- the great mercy of God that had been extended to him. The mercy of God had left an indelible mark on Paul.
Paul always knew that the ministry of the New Covenant was given to him in spite of his past, because of God's grace and compassion on him. If Paul ever stopped to recall his life without Christ, he would have been faced with the memory of those Christian believers he had hunted down, prosecuted, and even participated in stoning. The powerful mark of God's mercy sustained Paul through the many painful episodes that marked his ministry and enabled him to overcome feelings of despair. Thus he could write "we do not lose heart".
The KJV translates "we faint not". Paul did not "fade away". He did not "burn out". He did not "drop away" or give up. Paul may have been thinking of the words of the prophet Isaiah-- "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31). Because of the mercy that God had shown him, Paul hoped in the Lord and he did not lose heart. He did not grow faint.
The "serving" part of Christian life can be very difficult. It can be just plain hard because of what we would call "hardships" or tough circumstances. It can be even more difficult when we encounter persecution-- accusations and opposition put upon us precisely because we carry the name of Christ. It can even be hard because the people we are called to love aren't always lovely in their response.
The "diaconos" part of the call of God can be a very humble one. It can be tough because some people are hard to serve. Some are very immature or demanding. Others are always looking for something wrong or some point of criticism. Some are just ungrateful while others are downright hurtful. But when we remember the mercy of the Lord toward us we can put our hope in Him and not in people. And when we hope in the Lord, we will not grow faint. We can run and not grow weary. We can walk and not be faint.
Father God, help me to walk in Your footsteps of servanthood. Help me to always be focused on Your mercy that has been extended to me and that You call me to extend to those that You are bringing to Yourself. In Jesus' Name.