2 Corinthians 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
From the day we’re born, we’re dying. We grow, we learn, we love, we laugh, we experience all of the things life has to offer. But we all reach and end to this life. Praise be to God that this life is not all there is! We have something wonderful to look forward to – life eternal. This life is momentary, but the life after this one is never-ending.
All of the hardships we face here, they’re building us up, conforming us into the image of Christ, from one degree of glory to another. Sanctification takes place in this life, the Holy Spirit doing His work in us to make us what God intended us to be. We endure all that there is here for the reward we receive later when sanctification ends and glorification begins.
We carry with us the death of Christ. We die as a reminder both of the fact that sin brought death into the world and a testimony to the fact that Jesus saved us from eternal death. We live forever with Him because of what He did on the cross. His death spared us ours. His resurrection gave us a brief glimpse of what’s coming for us. What we face here is nothing compared to the glory we’ll see on the other side. It’s all just part of the journey.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
We face all sorts of opposition in this life, both before and after our conversion and rebirth in Christ. As we journey down the road of discipleship we’ll meet lots of challenges along the way, but they can be used to build us up instead of destroying us. With God on our side, we will be victorious.
As followers of Jesus, we don’t operate in our own strength, we have the Creator by our side. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) His power shows through when we have none. When we embrace our weakness and rest in Him, His power shows in us. When we’re weak, then we’re strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
It’s for the sake of Christ that we endure all this life has to throw at us. It’s so His power can be made known, so His strength can be evident in our lives. We’re given over to death in this body so that His life can be made real in us for all to see. It’s for His glory that we face trials, and just as we die like Christ we’ll be resurrected and glorified. He was victorious over death, so now we can be too.
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
We’re here and then we’re gone. So short are these lives we live on earth, but we seem to think we’ve got forever. We think that we can solve all of the world’s problems, if only given enough time. But none of us has that kind of time. It was designed that way. We’re here, and then we’re gone.
We weren’t made to live in these bodies forever, they’re our temporary homes. We give witness to the death of Christ through the death of our own bodies, but our spirits live on and bear witness to His resurrection with our own resurrection. We depart these jars of clay and trade them in for the real vessels our souls belong in.
To some, death is a terrifying, sad thought. But to those of us who belong to Christ, it’s only the beginning. Our knowledge, our strength, our capacity to love, all of these things are limited here on earth, in these bodies. What God has in store far surpasses anything we know here. This is just a warm up for the main event!
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
How does God reveal Himself to us? Many have asked this question and many will continue long after we’re gone from this earth, but the answer has been given. God revealed Himself in the form of Jesus, who walked the earth among men, facing our temptations and yet never giving in to them, living a perfect life in perfect harmony with the Father. In Christ, the character of God was revealed and lived out. And in God’s Word, Jesus is revealed to us who never got to walk in His presence on earth.
But to some the gospel is nonsense, they can’t make anything of it. They’ve been blinded to the power of the gospel as though they’re in darkness. But to those of us whom God has called, to those of us who have responded, He has shone a light. He has illuminated Jesus in the gospel to show us the glory of God, and He’s done it in our own hearts.
Apart from God working in us, we can’t understand His revelation, we can’t see Jesus for who He is. But when God gives the light, we can see everything for what it is. His truth is made real, His character is made clear. Then and only then can we begin to know Him.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
You are not who you once were. You’re not who you were before Christ, but you’re also not who you were right at the moment He entered your life. You’re being transformed by God to be more like Him. He’s revealing more of Himself to you and as He does that, you gain more of His character. To know Him is to behold Him.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. No, each and every thing that God needs to work on in your life to give you the image of Christ is done one bit at a time. One event at a time. One circumstance at a time. One tragedy at a time. One triumph. One stint of suffering. All of it, everything that happens in your life is part of the process. It may not seem so now, but over time it will make more sense. Look back at where you were and where you are now. Think of all the things you’ve been through that have shaped you into what you’ve become. And the process is only just beginning.
The journey of sanctification is ongoing and doesn’t stop until we’re just like Christ. It won’t end in this lifetime, but it will have an impact here. As the Holy Spirit works in you, it affects your character and the fruit you bear as a Christ follower. You walk more closely with God, understanding more as He reveals more of Himself. God is glorified in you and through you.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
God did an amazing thing for us in sending Jesus. He not only redeemed us and saved us from eternity in hell by forgiving us, but He adopted us into His family and now calls us His own children. Because we’re now His, He’s ours, we are not our own, we have been bought with a price. And our response to His mercy and grace is to give Him the one thing He wants – ourselves, to glorify God with our bodies. Our thoughts, our words, our work, our actions, our desires, our time, our talents, and our treasures. Not just all we have, but all we are. This may sound unreasonable, but trust me, the trade we make works in our favor. Like the man in the parable who sold all he had to buy a field where a great treasure was buried, our lives are so much richer with Jesus than with anything we’re unwilling to trade for having Him.
Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Submitting ourselves to Him pleases Him and brings about a transformation that we could never accomplish on our own. Jesus is better than anything we trade for Him.
Matthew 19:21-22 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
What is it that you want in life? Better question: is it what God wants for your life? I think this is the big hang up for people when it comes to presenting our whole bodies as a living sacrifice. The human heart wants what it wants, and sometimes that something destructive or sinful, and yet we can’t let go of it. Our desires can be very powerful. Look at the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19. He asked Jesus what he had to do to be saved. He said he kept the whole Law and obeyed God. Jesus told him the one thing he still needed to do was let go of what he was holding on to – his possessions. He couldn’t do it, and he missed out on something better. Some people interpret this story all wrong. It’s not about selling all of our stuff. It’s about giving our all.
We do surprising things to get what we want, things we’d never have thought we’d do. Our motives are shaped by what’s in our hearts. What are you holding on to that’s keeping you from being transformed? If Jesus is better than anything else we can have; what’s stopping you from letting go and trading what you want for what God wants?
When we submit our motives, God gives us desires that please Him. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Have you ever thought you knew what you were supposed to do, only to have it all fall apart and just not work out? I’ve been there with my life. I thought I had a future in politics. It seemed promising, but the deeper I got into things, the more frustrating it got and the less I seemed successful. It was only when I started letting go of what I wanted and letting the Lord direct me that I realized He had something greater planned.
It can be hard to let go of having our own way. We put in a lot of hard work to move in the direction of our own goals. When it comes to surrendering those for the sake of what God wants for us, it’s an incredibly humbling experience. His plans are always better than ours though.
Think about what you want out of life. Where are you going and how are you going to get here? Now ask if your goals fit into God’s bigger plan. If you can’t answer yes, what will you do to align with Him?
When we submit our moves, God gives us destinations.
Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Ministry: This is the work of your hands. The things you choose to do. One who’s been transformed works as though they’re working for the Lord and not for man. If you’re transformed, you care about what God wants you to do more than about your hobbies and personal ambitions. You set to work for what matters, not just for what you want.
I’ve often heard pastors talk about how God wants our time, our talents, and our treasures. These are all related to the hands. With our hands we can hold on to things, or we can share things. We can use our talents for ourselves or for God. We can spend our time doing selfish things or on things that matter. Where are you spending your most valuable assets?
I did a lot of fruitless things in my life before realizing what the Lord wanted me to do. The problem was I was trying to do things without allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through me. Nothing was succeeding because of my unwillingness to submit and trade what I wanted for what He wanted. When I finally recognized that His way is better, I traded in false gods and gained purpose.
When we submit our ministry, God gives us duties to accomplish. We all want to do something worthwhile, but what God gives us to do is far greater than anything we can think up.
Hebrews 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
We praise God with our words. We represent God with our words, for better or for worse. We can make Him look good or make Him look bad. As an example, think of Christians you know who are always encouraging and sharing the gospel and Christians who are always griping or complaining. Think about someone like Billy Graham and compare them to some grumpy old guy in church, or maybe a group of protestors who claim to speak for God. Who makes you want to hear more about God?
We don’t like being told what we can and can’t say. We have freedom of speech to say whatever we want! Yes, we CAN say whatever we want, but not everything that can be said should be said. Out of the heart the mouth speaks, so if there are ugly things being said, then it’s not a mouth issue, it’s a heart issue. A transformed heart leads to words that build up, not destroy, encourage, not hurt, praise God, not defame Him.
I have the spiritual gift of sarcasm. You say something to me and I will likely have some smart comment to throw back at you in relatively quick fashion. I’ve got to watch it, because sometimes I can hurt others, even though I didn’t intend that to be the outcome. I have a daily responsibility to submit my mouth to God. Can you relate?
Have you laid this down before God and said, “Lord I want to speak words of life. May the words of my mouth be pleasing to you?”
When we submit our mouths, God gives us declarations. He’s not about giving us a script, but He empowers us to speak life.