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Monday, January 2, 2017

Monday's Message: Balancing the Christian Life

II Corinthians 6:8-10
8  By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
9  As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10  As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Last week we discussed the idea of our “Christian Engine”

The function of that engine being described in 2 Corinthians 6:4-5
4  But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5  In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;

The parts of the engine are found in vss. 2 Corinthians 6:6-7
6  By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7  By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

This week we are going to examine some areas of the Christian life that require us to be fully dependent on the Spirit of God. All too often, we as believers will become over confident in our abilities based on a mistaken track record of success which, in reality, is the Holy Spirit working through us. “Thine is the glory” is too quickly forgotten.

 Most of the descriptions offered in contrasting terms in this passage are made by someone who is observing the construction and the functions of the “engine”. It seems to be a bit of a critical point of view. I’ve heard it said, “While critics are often wrong in their approach, motive, and timing they are often supremely accurate in their assessments.” To dismiss relevant information strictly based on the delivery is foolish.

The first contrast we find is “Honor and Dishonor.”  It is not a mystery, to us who are called out of the world and unto our Holy God, that we will not enjoy the praise of everyone. In fact in the culture we dwell in these days, it seems, we must be prepared for dishonor much more than honorable treatment by those who do not know or love God. This begs the question, “From whom are we seeking approval?”

“Evil report and good report” How often are people who stand for what the Bible says is right, eternal, and unchanging treated as bigots, intolerant, and hateful? We have seen a great deal of “Evil reporting” done in these recent days. This should come as no surprise! We find here that the church has experienced this sort of treatment now for centuries.

“Deceivers and yet true” This is quite possibly referring to the necessity of deceiving authorities who are killing Christians to have opportunity to share the Gospel with others who may be receptive. This also lends itself to the idea of being judged as a hypocrite; most likely from someone whose entire Bible quoting repertoire is “Judge not”! The Bible is not a medieval conspiracy comprised by rulers of that age to control the enslaved population; however, it is a Book of great power and authority. That is exactly why it receives so much criticism and disdain from those who wish to live free of its impact. We cannot expect to be loved for our adherence to it by such a group.

“Unknown and yet well known” This speaks, I believe, to the proper separation we must have in our lives.  We must be available to help whenever a person needs us, but not live in similar manner with them. There must be some amount of mystery in every relationship. You’ve heard the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt.” In a word, influence: that is what is being described by this comparison. When too many of our flaws, shortcomings, and weaknesses are known by those who we attempt to influence for Christ, the task only increases in difficulty.

“As dying and yet we live” This is referring to the idea of dying to the flesh and walking the Spirit which will never see death. This will NOT make sense to the world, but it is necessary to flourish in our walk with the Lord. Dead people don’t get offended. Dead people are not affected by the criticism of those who wish to see them fail. If we are dead to self and living only unto God we will be free of the constant struggle to walk in the Spirit.

“As Chastened and not killed” – here we are reminded that we are sinners saved by grace who will be chastened and corrected by the Lord because we deserve it. Though it should be our goal, we will never be perfect this side of Glory. Far too often we think of the Christian life as a life that must be lived in its entirety TODAY, but that is not the case.  The issues that we have studied over the past few weeks are issues that Christians who have been saved for decades continue to struggle with, myself included! It’s referred to as the Christian LIFE for a reason; it will take a lifetime.

“As sorrowful yet ALWAYS rejoicing” YES!! The trials and the tragedies of this life will bring sorrow into our lives, but a trial does not mean that everything in life is bad or destroyed.  It simply reminds us that we have an enemy and a flesh and that some parts of our lives really stink! This should not even interrupt our constant praise and gratitude being expressed to the Father for all that He has done and is doing.

“As poor yet making many rich” A believer should be one who is unassuming yet oozing with the knowledge of God.  I believe, “poor” indicates a level of understanding and wisdom, without pedigree.  We may be looked on as unlearned and ignorant by those the world deems educated. This does not rob us of the opportunity  to offer the priceless gift of salvation to anyone who will believe!

“As having nothing yet possessing all things” There may be many things we will do without here on earth because we do not live for earthly pleasures and for money, but we will have everything and more than we have ever imagined one day and we will have it for all of eternity! God provides all that we need! This is the observation of those who live for God and the Lord just blesses them in a way that is beyond comprehension. 

There are many contrasts, descriptions, and comparisons here, and I am sure that we can all relate to them in some way.  The message for us today is to have a testimony that reflects the power of God at work!  There should be some things that take place in our lives the world just can’t understand and that only GOD could have done! Believer, take God off trial in your life! NO, your life will not be easy or without failure, but you will never be forced to take one step of your journey alone. Remember, God is working for our good and for His glory.

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