2 Corinthians 4:9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
What is your aim in life this morning? Paul said for him, it was to be well pleasing to the Lord. His sole desire was to please God. Can we each one say to ourselves, and those around us, that our one desire in life, whether it is in living or in dying is that we would be well pleasing to God?
We often focus our attention on the brevity of the difficulties that we have which Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 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.
We use those two verses to give us hope that the difficulties that we experience in life are just temporary, subject to change. And they are. But look at what they are doing while we are going through them. They are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! They are being used for our good. Paul speaks of how he was persecuted through his life that what was on the inside of him, his faith in God, would be seen on the outside. He spoke of being hard-pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, stuck down, always carrying about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life of Jesus might be revealed through his body; through his life. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)
He went on to say that his spirit of faith caused him to speak positively about these things because he knew that the same God that raised Jesus up from the dead, would would do the same for him! No matter what he faced in life his focus was that life after death that would be his because of whose he was. He belonged to God; his life was in the hands of the One who loved him the most. The things that he experienced in this life were temporary and they were working for him, not against him. He chose to view his temporary difficulties in his earthly body, his tent that he lived his earthly life in, as being light, momentary afflictions. How many of us have that perspective of persecutions and difficulties?
Paul's only aim in all of life was that through the good and the bad that he would be well pleasing to God. He knew that in order to do that he would have to walk by faith in God, not by what he was seeing or feeling that was happening in his life.
2 Corinthians 4:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
We don't always see or know everything about what is going on in our lives. We can't see into the future to know what God is doing through the difficult times. But our faith is to be in Him, not in our temporary lives here on earth. We are but a vapor that passes away.
James 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
When we experience difficulties arising from persecutions or people who come against us for one reason or another, we may not always know why it is happening. We just know that it hurts and we really don't like dealing with it or being hurt through it. But we have a choice to make in those times. We can either view them as being awful and focus on how bad life is treating us, or we can look at them through eyes of faith and see that God sees the bigger picture and He is working things in these situations for our good, not to destroy us or discourage us, but to develop within us the life of Christ that the world can see and know that there's something different about us that they want.
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
Every day that we live is one more day closer to the end of our physical life here on earth. But life continues on after death and what awaits us in eternity with Jesus is far better; far more important that what we experience here on earth. Yes, it hurts when people mistreat us, misunderstand us and even persecute us to the point of trying to kill us. But what Paul is saying is that there is a greater joy awaiting us when this earthly life is over.
For the Christian who has chosen to live for Jesus that is an eternity spent in the presence of God where there is no sickness or disease, no sin or hate, no poverty and lack. All is peace and joy in the presence of the Lord. For the one who has not made that decision while living in this earthly life, the exact opposite is true. For their eternity is going to last just as long as that of the Christian, but it will be spent in a horrible place where they are eternally separated from God, forever tormented with pain, always wishing they could die and the pain would end but not being able to. Jesus said in Mark 9:47, 48 that those who do not enter into the kingdom of God would be cast into “hell fire—where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.'”
How horrible to think that your eternity would be that of hell fire! How does that bring into perspective those of us who may be experiencing persecution in some minor form? The greater joy awaits us! We do not have to spend eternity separated from God. The pain that we experience in this life is the greatest pain we will ever experience. When this life is over the pain ends, all is well; there is peace forever! And while in this life the pain that we are experiencing through our difficulties is working for our good.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
When we respond in the manner that God wants us to during difficulties, persecutions, misunderstandings, then He is able to reveal His glory in us. This is a supernatural working of God in and through us in those times of affliction that causes those around us to wonder where we got the ability to endure and smile while it's happening. It's because the Spirit of God is working in us! He is interceding through us! He is praying according to the will of the Father for us! And He is changing us into the image of God's Son. He is glorifying Himself through the lives of His children!
Romans 8:28-30 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Hebrews 12:2 says the way Jesus endured through the shame and pain of the cross was by looking at the joy that was set before Him. He looked past the pain and the shame of having man's sin placed on His body and being crucified unjustly as a criminal and He focused on the “joy” of making it possible for you and me to become children of God. His sacrifice paid the price for us to be accepted into the kingdom of God!
Hebrews 12:3, 4 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.
Do not become weary, my friends, when difficult times come into your life, or when someone says something against you or even, God forbid, if you are persecuted more severely. God's greater glory awaits you! There is a greater joy ahead; a better day is coming. Look at the affliction in light of eternity! God knows what has taken place; He will help you deal with whatever has happened!
Father, I thank You this morning that we can know that when this life with all its trials and tribulations is over that if we have accepted Jesus into our hearts as our personal Lord and Savior that we have a glorious future ahead of us in heaven with You. Father, these afflictions that we endure are temporary, they are subject to change and they are working for our good. I pray that we who know You and love You will have it as our aim to live our lives well pleasing unto You. Father, may we look at our persecutors with the love that You have placed in our hearts and not disdain or hatred for them because they are doing just what sin causes them to do. Father, I pray for those who do not know You that they will choose to invite Jesus into their hearts before it is too late, before they leave this life and enter into eternity. Father, I stand before You in the mighty name of Jesus interceding for the lost and hurting this morning! May Your will be done in their lives, just as it is in heaven. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.