“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”
—2 Corinthians 4:1
Since the fall into sin, work has been marred by frustration and futility. At times, even those who serve in congregations and schools have been disappointed by the lack of apparent fruits from their labor. Meetings may seem pointless and unproductive. One’s leadership may seem to be ignored or underappreciated by congregation members. The relationship between the called workers and the congregation can be a source of resentment rather than a source of joy. There are times when those who serve feel that their work is met with nothing but opposition or apathy. Other times, those who serve feel that their own inadequacies are the source of the problem. Struggles at home or work can quickly spill over to the other realm.
St. Paul’s word of encouragement to the Corinthians is more than just a reminder that we do not lose heart. The thrust of the Greek verb means that we shall not fail. On account of our own weakness and frailty, along with the hardheartedness of the members, we would seem to be destined to fail. But on account of the mercy of God, we cannot fail. Mark Seifrid writes, “Paul here again attributes his sufficiency as apostle to the saving relationship of communication with fallen human beings that God brought about in Christ.” (The Second Letter to the Corinthians, p. 190) Our congregations do not thrive and grow because of the talents and abilities of a pastor. Our sufficiency comes from Christ, so also does the growth of the kingdom.
This also means that our labor is never in vain. While not every meeting may seem the most productive use of time, we know that our service in the name of Jesus is “effective,” not because of our plans or efforts, but because of the Holy Spirit’s work through the Word. And when we do not feel like we are seeing the fruits of our labors, we do not lose heart because we cannot fail. Our service, as fraught with weakness as it is, has been covered in the merciful blood of Jesus. As such, having this ministry by God’s mercy, we cannot fail. May God bless your labors and cause them to bear much fruit! May God grant you joy as you serve in your particular calling! May God move the hearts of His people to gladly hear and learn the Word as it is proclaimed among them! Finally, may God remind all of us that our sufficiency is in Christ and therefore we cannot fail!
Prayer – Almighty God, grant to Your Church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve You and, in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan