“We give no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our service may not be blamed, but in everything commending ourselves, as servants of God, in great endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; in pureness, in knowledge, in perseverance, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
This passage immediately reminds me of 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 where Paul again shares a testimony of what he has been through. As I think about enduring, these are definitely things I never hope to go through. Yet, when I think about Paul, these are all struggles he faced after being converted. So often I want the Christian walk to be easy. I think “If I am in God’s will, it should be smooth sailing. Right?”
Paul’s journey tells another story. He faced a lot of problems but through it all he kept his focus on God and the purpose He had placed before him. He knew regardless of the circumstances, he needed to just keep doing the right thing. People were watching him. They were looking to him as an example. I am sure that people questioned why he was in jail. Those that were there to witness probably knew, but those in distant areas probably had the same type of rumor mill that is present in our day. It was just slower moving.
So what do we do when things are tough? When every sign points to “Your going the wrong way!” even as we feel like we have a clear sign from God that we are doing what He purposed in our heart? This passage gives us some pretty good guidance on what to do.
- Present yourself suitable for approval. Keep doing the right thing. Until God tells you to do something different, you keep doing the last thing He told you to do.
- Endure – one of the definitions is the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina:
- Pureness, uprightness of life – continue to be honorable and honest
- By knowledge – seek out knowledge through the Word and through godly counsel
- Perseverance- be patient, slow to avenge wrongs
- Kindness – be tolerant of others, even those who are wronging you
- By Holy Spirit – allow Holy Spirit to lead you, directing and guiding you, allow Him to comfort you
- With love – affection, good will, benevolence, allow God to love though you
- By the Word of God – seek out His direction from Scriptures
- By God’s power and strength- we are not meant to do it on our own but to rely on God’s strength and power in our weakness
- With the armor of righteousness – the breastplate of righteousness is keeping our thoughts, feelings and actions correct
- With spirit and shield in your right and left hand – the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit
- By honor- keep a good opinion concerning another, and as a result praise and glory
- Don’t look to man’s opinion for a good or bad report – We can have man’s praise and not be in Gods will, and have their opposition and be in her perfect will. We have to stay focused on what God has told us to do.
- Continue speaking the truth – we can’t back down from speaking the truth
- Remember that regardless of who knows what you are going through or what you are accomplishing for the kingdom, remember God knows.
- Remember the aim of your life is to be devoted to Christ, to thrive in Him.
- Remember God is using experiences to teach you, to help you learn the lessons you need for the next season of your life.
- Rejoice – we should not walk around in sorrow, defeat, or grumbling, find something to rejoice about, you can find that when you take you eyes off the circumstances you are in
- Keep your focus on the spiritual blessing and richness that you are gaining and that you are bringing to others
- Count your blessings, they are many.
It’s easy to know what to do, but it’s harder to do it. I believe we see Paul’s life in more detail than others as an example of how to endure through the difficult times. God is not going to let us face anything without being there with us. We will go through it. The question is we need to ask is “how we will be as we go through it?”.
Prayer – Lord, what an amazing example you have set through Paul. You let us see that it isn’t always puppies, cakes, and roses; we will face trials and tribulations. We will have to walk through hard things. You promise though, that You are always with us. You provide us with knowledge from Your Word of how to face trials. Help me to do what Your Word says when I face difficult seasons. Guide me in my next steps. In Jesus name, Amen!