“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NIV
That last line gets my heart every time. I have underlined it in my Bible. Having nothing, yet possessing everything. Wow! That’s what it feels like to know and be known. That’s what being souled out for Jesus represents to the church and the world. There isn’t anything mentioned by Paul that leaves us with the impression that Paul was enjoying what he suffered, but it does impress upon us to get the Lord’s perspective on what we are going through and will go through.
Even in the hardships we face, we’re enriched. Even if we lose everything we still possess the greatest life we ever could have lived. There’s nothing ordinary about being a follower of Jesus Christ. In another passage the apostles called themselves worthy to suffer for Christ. Who would’ve thought that suffering could be a blessing? Joseph didn’t know slavery was ultimately a blessing in disguise. The three Hebrews didn’t know that the fiery furnace was an opportunity to meet Jesus. When God orders or ordains our steps, we never know where they’ll take us, but Paul reminds us to not be alarmed but to count it all joy.
In Acts four the apostles didn’t set out to be hauled in for preaching in Jesus Name, but neither were they upset by it. As a matter of fact they were emboldened to preach even more. How will we handle persecution? Are we prepared? What will our answers be? Are we willing to lose everything to gain Christ? Here in the west, we have a hard time with inconveniences. We fret whenever things don’t go as planned. Little insignificant things throw us off course and frustrate us. It’s too hot, too cold, too noisy, the traffic is too congested, the line is too long, and on and on. We have no concept of what is taking place around the world with Christians.
Last year in Pakistan, two Christian women were raped mercilessly then had their throats cut and discarded like garbage because they refused to convert to Islam. The intolerance towards Christianity by the current cancel culture in this country is becoming more evident. But the majority of church folks haven’t got a clue. The early church was aware and prepared for anything and everything. They knew to count the cost and lived in complete abandonment to Jesus Christ. Read the passage again. “ We put no stumbling block in anyone’s way.” Meaning they lived a life above reproach. They represented Jesus with integrity and honor. He continues; “Rather as servants of God we leave no question about whose we are. Then he lists the things they’ve suffered. But not as a complaint. Let’s read verse 6-8 from the New Living Translation.
“We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors.” 2 Corinthians 6:6-8 NLT
Perspective. No brawling, no complaining, no regrets, no woe is me, no retaliation just the sweet fragrance of Christ. They weren’t looking for sympathy or making excuses, instead they were building up the body of Christ, teaching by example how to triumph in suffering. But they weren’t doing any of this in their own strength. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to assist us in whatever we may face. The courage and boldness comes through Him. Dying yet living is another example he gave. There’s no way to go through the things Paul did without dying to Paul yet being alive in Christ Jesus. As I’ve written, it’s hard to kill a dead person. How we face challenges as believers in Jesus will always come down to how we view what we’re going through. The proper perspective is the one we have by the Holy Spirit.
If we’re suffering not for wrongdoing but for Jesus, then like the apostles before us, we won’t be a stumbling block to those who are watching us. We too will carry the fragrance of Jesus. And whether we’re honored or despised, slandered or praised, we’ll count it all joy. Representing Jesus as true servants. Perspective…
“So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.” 2 Timothy 1:8 NLT
“Lord Yahweh, You are the Lord of all! You created the universe—the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything that is in them. So now, Lord, listen to their threats to harm us. Empower us, as Your servants, to speak the word of God freely and courageously. Stretch out Your hand of power through us to heal, and to move in signs and wonders by the Name of your Holy Son, Jesus!” Amen🙏
Acts 4:24, 29-30 TPT
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit