How to Not Lose Heart-Part 2

by Wayne Barber

I love the words of Paul in verse 1 of chapter 4 of 2nd Corinthians:  "Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart." Losing heart is not a fun thing to happen to a believer. The phrase "lose heart" is one word in the Greek New Testament: ekkakéo\. It is associated with someone becoming weak or fainthearted but the root meaning of the word has to do with one who has gone back to the ways of the flesh. We saw in our last article that the symptoms are prayerlessness; trying to achieve a ministry that can only be received; forgetting our eternal hope; growing impatient while sowing good seed; and becoming undisciplined in the ordinary responsibilities of life. Paul says he does not lose heart! He is not about to turn back to his religious flesh because he has been there and done that!

Now, if we look carefully at Paul's life we can see the symptoms of one who has not lost heart! Paul's ministry, as an apostle to the Gentiles, was preaching the message of the new covenant—the awesome message of God's amazing grace. It is unfortunate that a chapter break occurs just before this verse (4:1). It causes us to think that the subject has changed.  But in this case, we must not overlook the little word "therefore" at the beginning of the verse.

Whenever you see a "therefore," as a student of God's Word, always ask what it is "there for." Paul is continuing his thoughts on being a servant or a minister of the New Covenant, which he introduced in chapter 3:5-6. Paul's ministry as an apostle was a gift from God, as we see in the verb tense of the phrase "As we received mercy." It is in the aorist indicative passive—meaning that someone else was causing this to happen to Paul. When you add to that Paul's use of the word "mercy," then we can understand how he realized that his ministry was totally undeserved!

You see, "mercy" is when God doesn't give us what we deserve! Paul's salvation, his ministry, his message were all given by the grace and the mercy of God. His ministry was a gift from God's loving heart and he knew that he in no way deserved it! Although gratitude is not mentioned explicitly it is certainly implicit in this verse. The fact that his ministry was preaching the awesome good news of the New Covenant which had transformed his own life; and the fact that he realized the mercy that God had shown to him, produced deep gratitude in his heart! 

Oh, what a privilege to preach the message of God's grace in Christ Jesus. This is why in chapter 3 Paul could say: "Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech" (v. 12). The hope Paul was referring to was that Christ the "glory of God" lived in him.  Not only was Christ living in him but was daily changing him into His image from "glory to glory"! Oh, what a privilege! What a joy it must have been to him to know that the One that he was preaching about lived in him to enable him to do what was given him to do. No wonder Paul did not lose heart! Daily he lived in the presence of Christ and drew upon His adequacy and His life! 

Oh, how we need to learn from Paul! The arrogance we see in the Christian world today is appalling! Where is the humility and where is the gratitude to God for His mercy He has shown to us, which we could never deserve. Well, we know from God's Word, we won't lose heart when we are grateful and humble enough to admit that the ministry that God has given to us is undeserved and is a wonderful privilege!! We won't lose heart when we finally realize that He lives in us to do through us what we could never have done without Him! When we see a believer who has not lost heart, we will always see this "attitude of gratitude" in his or her life! 

What about you? Have you lost heart? Have you forgotten not only that you do not deserve salvation, but that none of us deserves to be used by God for His purposes on earth?

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad