Vol. 11 No. 5 May 2009
“So, because I hold a place in this ministry and that because I have had God’s mercy shown me, I never give up” (2 Corinthians 4:1; Charles B. Williams Translation). I use various translations in my daily Bible reading and as I was reading this passage from the Williams translation, I was moved to write an article to encourage Christians never to give up on the Lord but to remain loyal and faithful while we live on this earth. The expression, “I never give up” is also found in verse 16 of 2 Corinthians 4. Other translations render these two verses that involve the other apostles in this manner: “We do not lose heart” (NASB & NKJV); “We faint not” (ASV); and “That’s why we never give up” (CEV). The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (NKJV). Steadfastness and perseverance is woefully lacking among many members of the church today. Seemingly it takes but a small amount of discouragement to cause a brother or sister to leave the Lord and His church. I am reminded of what the wise man wrote in Proverbs 24:10, “If you faint in the day of adversity, Your strength is small.” The fact is you never know the strength of a man until you know what it takes to discourage him. When Paul stated that “I never give up” or “We do not lose heart,” he truly meant it because he had been tested and tried and had been proven to be faithful to his Lord.
Please ponder carefully his description of how his faith had been tested. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).
Later in this epistle he wrote:
Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and day I have been in deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
In spite of all the adversities that he had to endure, he remained strong in his convictions, knowing that the time was coming when he would be with the Lord Jesus Christ whom he had served faithfully in this life.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed days by day. For our light affliction, which but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1)
We should imitate this great man of faith and never despair to the extent that we would forsake our Lord (1 Corinthians 11:1). If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we will never falter along life’s uneasy pathway (Hebrews 12:1-4).