"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" We Do Not Lose Heart (4:1) INTRODUCTION 1. Twice in the chapter in which our text is found Paul makes the statement "we do not lose heart" - 2Co 4:1,16 a. The phrase "lose heart" means to "be discouraged" b. If anyone ought to have been discouraged as a Christian, it should have been Paul 1) Consider some of the things he suffered - cf. 2Co 11:23-29 2) And yet note what he says in 2Co 4:8-9 -- I.e., Paul says "we do not lose heart"! 2. However, it is not uncommon for Christians today to "lose heart" or to become discouraged a. This is both strange and sad b. Strange, because we do not experience near the hardships Paul did c. Sad, because as Paul wrote in Ga 6:9b... "...in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." 3. In this lesson, I want us to examine various aspects of "losing heart"... a. We shall consider some SIGNS of losing heart b. And identify REASONS people lose heart c. And then identify PAUL'S SECRET to not losing heart I. SIGNS OF "LOSING HEART" A. LACK OF PERSISTENCE IN PRAYER (NOT SO VISIBLE TO OTHERS) 1. Christ equated fervent prayer with not losing heart - Lk 18:1 2. Most often, the first sign of losing heart is being haphazard in our prayer life 3. In contrast, a strong Christian life is characterized by fervent prayer a. "With all prayer and petition pray at all times."
- Ep 6:18 b. "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it."
- Col 4:2 c. "Pray without ceasing." - 1Th 5:17 d. "I want the men in every place to pray" - 1Ti 2:8 B. GROWING WEARY IN DOING GOOD (VISIBLE TO OTHERS) 1. Paul equated this with losing heart in Ga 6:9 2. Some examples of growing weary in doing good... a. Neglecting opportunities to help others in need - Ga 6:10 1) Such as visiting the sick and afflicted 2) Such as telling others of the gospel of Christ b. Forsaking the assembling of ourselves together - He 10: 24-25 1) Which in itself is designed to encourage others 2) And encourage ourselves as well! [Both of these are clear symptoms that one is losing heart. But when there is PEACE to be found in prayer and JOY to be found in doing good, what would cause some people to be discouraged and "lose heart"...?] II. REASONS SOME "LOSE HEART" A. ONE ANSWER: TRIBULATIONS! 1. Paul alluded to this in his remarks to the Ephesians - Ep 3:13 a. He was concerned that they not lose heart over HIS tribulations b. If such was possible over his troubles, how much more over their own! 2. Jesus warned in His parable of "The Sower" that some would be affected this way - Mt 13:20-21 3. Tribulations can take different forms a. Both Paul and Christ had reference to those peculiar to Christians 1) Ridicule, ostracism, even physical abuse by those of the world 2) Sometimes even from those we least expect it...brethren who sin against us -- Many Christians have "lost heart" being discouraged in these ways b. But there are also tribulations common to all men 1) Sickness and death 2) Frustrations at job and home -- These also take their toll B. ANOTHER REASON: LAWLESSNESS! 1. Jesus said this would happen in Mt 24:12 2. "Lawlessness" is lack of respect for God in both: a. Attitude (toward God's word) b. Obedience (in doing God's will) 3. Such "lawlessness" is infectious a. For when many people demonstrate a lack of respect for God's Will ... b. ...it discourages the faithful and even encourages them to unfaithfulness - cf. 1Co 15:33 4. I suspect that today... a. More Christians are "losing heart" because of lawlessness rather than tribulations b. Because in our country... 1) Most severe forms of tribulations are forbidden 2) The most severe forms of lawlessness are practiced and even encouraged! [Yet Paul stands before us as an example of one who despite the worst of tribulations, and living in the most lawless of cultures could still say "we do not lose heart"! What was Paul's secret? For the answer we must look at the context in which his statement is found...] III. SECRETS TO NOT "LOSING HEART" A. APPRECIATE THE GLORIOUS NATURE OF OUR MINISTRY... 1. Paul refers to the relationship of this ministry and not losing heart in 2Co 4:1 2. "Therefore" refers to the previous chapter, in which Paul contrasted the NEW Covenant with the OLD - 2Co 3:5-18 3. Compare the OLD with the NEW... The OLD Covenant The NEW Covenant Of the letter vs. Of the Spirit 3:6 Kills vs. Gives life 3:6 Glorious vs. More glorious 3:7-11 Ministry of condemnation vs. Ministry of righteousness 3:9 Ministry passing away vs. Ministry which remains 3:11 Ministry with a veil vs. Ministry which is unveiled 3:12-17 Ministry which hardens vs. Ministry which gives hearts liberty 3:14-17 Transformed one vs. Transforms all 3:18 4. The glory of the New is seen to be even greater when we remember what is said about the value of the Old! - Ps 19:7-11 a. If this is true with what David had in his day (only part of the OT)... b. ...then consider what must be true when we have the completed OT and NT! 5. It is in view of such a wonderful ministry that prompted Paul to say "since we have this ministry, as we have mercy, we do not lose heart." -- Do we really appreciate the nature of the ministry we have in Christ? It would help us not to "lose heart"! B. REALIZE THE POWER OF CHRIST WHEN WE ARE WEAK... 1. Paul is referring to this when he makes the statement again in 2Co 4:16 2. As we have seen, Paul suffered greatly for Christ
- cf. 2 Co 4:8-9 3. But he saw it as opportunities for God's power through Christ to be shown - cf. 2Co 4:7,10-11 4. This was a lesson Christ taught Paul, when he struggled over his "thorn in the flesh" - cf. 2Co 12:7-10 a. When we are weak, that is an opportunity to depend upon the Lord for strength! b. So infirmities and tribulations can be occasions to rejoice, not despair! -- Have we learned this lesson? It would help us to not "lose heart"! C. LOOK AT THINGS NOT SEEN... 1. This is what renewed Paul inwardly day by day (i.e., enabled him not to "lose heart") - 2Co 4:16-18 2. Things "not seen" refer to: a. The "far more exceeding and eternal weight of GLORY" b. Which makes our AFFLICTION... 1) Light 2) Momentary, temporary c. This "glory" is further described in 2Co 5:1-5 3. Looking at things "unseen" renewed Paul daily! -- Do we let such a hope of glory renew us? Or do we lose heart because we never take the time to dwell an such things? CONCLUSION 1. In closing, read with me what Paul wrote to the Galatians... "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Ga 6:7-9) 2. Hopefully, we will not grow weary and "lose heart" in our service to the Lord a. But if you ever find ourselves growing weary... b. Review what Paul wrote in 2Co 3-5, where you will find the secrets to not "losing heart" We spoke briefly of the glorious nature of the ministry we have in Christ, a ministry of in which WE ALL can be TRANSFORMED. Have you begun this "transformation" process with your obedience to the gospel of Christ?... - cf. 2Co 5:17; Ga 3:26-27