Paul’s Suffering for Christ
2 Cor. 6:1-10
We all suffer. Regardless of what social standing and race you are, rich, poor, famous, strong, weak, beautiful, white, black, brown, yellow. We all experience pain and heart ache, and we all cry. Tears falls into our eyes in times of sorrow or sadness. Christ suffered so we also must suffer. As children of God, we have to suffer for Christ’s sake and for the sake of the unsaved. Paul and his fellow
servants of the Lord suffered a lot as they share the gospel to the unsaved, and we have our own share also as we go and obey the great commission.
Illustration 1: Pass Through the Fire
Most of the Psalms were born in difficulty. Most of the Epistles were written in prisons. Most of the greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers of all time had to pass through the fire. Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress from jail. Florence Nightingale, too ill to move from her bed, reorganized the hospitals of England. Semi paralyzed and under the constant menace of apoplexy, Pasteur was tireless in his attack on disease. During the greater part of his life, American historian Francis Parkman suffered so acutely that he could not work for more than five minutes as a time. His eyesight was so wretched that he could scrawl only a few gigantic words on a manuscript, yet he contrived to write twenty magnificent volumes of history.
Sometimes it seems that when God is about to make preeminent use of a man, he puts him through the fire.
Tim Hansel, You Gotta Keep Dancin,’ David C. Cook, 1985, p. 87
I. We are Partners (2 Cor. 6:1-2)
A. We then, as workers together with him… “(2 Cor. 6:1a): We are co-workers, partners with God. “For we are laborers together with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). We are fellow workers in Christ’s Church. There is a duty and obligation to work – physical and spiritual,
B. As real apostles urge unbelievers to be reconciled to God, they urge Christians not to receive the grace of God in vain. The question, is what Paul means when he speaks of “receive not the grace of God in vain”. The expression, in vain, consistently seems to refer to any actions taken which do not produce their intended result. This may be one ‘s labor or ministry, which fails to produce the desired results (Isa. 49:4; 1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 2:2; Phil. 2:16; 1 Thess. 3:5). It may even be one ‘s suffering, which proves to be of no benefit (Gal. 3:4).
C. In verse 2, Paul is quoting Isa. 49:8. He wants the Corinthians to adhere to the truth because it was God’s time to save and they were messengers helping to spread that message “now is the day of salvation”. Paul is applying Isaiah’s words to the present situation. There is a time in God’s economy when He listens to sinners and responds to those who are repentant and it was and is that time. (Prov. 1:20-23, Isa. 55:6, Heb. 3:7, 8, 4:7). However, there will also be an end to that time (Gen. 6:3, Prov. 1:24-33).
II. Testing of the Worker (2 Cor. 6:4-5).
A. Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed: Paul realized the sensitivity of people in the church and in the world. He did not want to be a bad example to anyone; it was his goal to guard his testimony so as to not injure his ministry. The true Christian will care and guard his actions and his attitude so as to not damage his ministry. We all know people that are easily offended and there is no reason we should add to their offense. We are to live a life that is guarded and godly. It is our honorable duty to live a pure life that does not make people stumble or that leads another person into error. The word “blamed” means “to find fault with or to be mocked”. Our duty is to live a life that brings no fault upon our office or our ministry and guards against our ministry being mocked as impure.
III. Sufferings for Christ (2 Cor. 6:4-10)
A. Paul suffered for Christ sake and for unbeliever’s sake so that they will be saved. The following are the one listed in our text.
1. In Much Patience – endurance, Paul had not quit when things were tough.
2. In Afflictions – Being in afflictions are trials under pressure, when you are
pressed down by circumstances.
3. In Necessities – Necessities are the everyday hardships of life.
4. In Distresses – and distresses refer to experiences that push us into a corner
where there seems to be no escape. The Greek word means “a narrow place.”
5. In Stripes – scourged in the synagogues and cities as if they had been the worst of men.
6. In Imprisonments – Placed in a prison.
7. In Tumults – Instability, state of disorder, commotion, confusion, as the preach the gospel
8. In Labors – work resulting in weariness
9. In Watching’s – “Periods of sleeplessness, attentive, ready”
10. In Fasting – willingly going without food
B. Other form of sufferings we will be experiencing
1. Persecution – Mt. 5:11
2. Hatred – Mt. 10:22
3. Loss of life – Mt. 10:39
4. Renunciation of worldly treasures – Mt. 19:29
5. Loss of refutation – 1 Cor. 4:10
6. Death – 2 Cor. 4:11
Illustration 2: Called to Suffer
Some believers are very surprised when they are called to suffer. They thought they would do some great thing for God, but all God permits them to do is to suffer. Just suppose you could speak with those who have gone to be with the Lord; everyone has a different story, yet everyone has a tale of suffering. One was persecuted by family and friends…another was inflicted with pain and disease, neglected by the world…another was bereaved of children…another had all these afflictions. But you will notice that though the water was deep, they all have reached the other side. Not one of them blames God for the road He led them; ‘Salvation’ is their only cry. Are there an of you, dear children,
murmuring at your lot? Do not sin against God. This is the way God leads all His redeemed ones. Robert Murray McCheyne
Illustration 3: Hebrews 12:1
Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “run with endurance” the race set before us. George Matheson wrote, “We commonly associate patience with lying down. We think of it as the angel that guards the couch of the invalid. Yet there is a patience that I believe to be harder—the patience that can run. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet under the stroke of adverse fortune, implies a great strength; but I know of something that implies a strength greater still: it is the power to work under stress; to have a great weight at your heart and still run; to have a deep anguish in your spirit and still perform the daily tasks. It is a Christlike thing! The hardest thing is that most of us are called to exercise our
patience, not in the sickbed but in the street.”
To wait is hard, to do it with “good courage” is harder!
Our Daily Bread, April 8
IV. Christian Graces to endure and to survive (2 Cor. 6: 6-10)
A. The apostle says that he patiently endured all of these things by using the following tools. The tools that Paul used were mightier than the whip of the Jews and the rod of the Romans. Paul listed a series of paradoxes, because he knew that not everybody really understood him and his ministry. Paul’s enemies gave an evil report of him as a man who was a dishonourable deceiver. But God gave a good report of Paul as a man who was honorable and true. Paul was well known and yet, at the same time, unknown.
1. By Pureness – Chasteness and uprightness of one’s life, Paul is morally clean.
2. By Knowledge – God given insight into the fullness of the gospel”
3. By Longsuffering- Endurance, forbearance, in dealing with difficult people.
4. By Kindness- Moral goodness, integrity, that which is good”
5. By the Holy Ghost – The one that empowered him to success”
6. By Unfeigned Love – Undisguised love, surest fruit of the Spirit”
7. By the Word of Truth – Used to convey spiritual knowledge”
8. By the Power of God – The true resource of his impact, dynamite”
9. By the Armor of Righteousness – His offensive weapons”
10. By Honor and Dishonor – Some may approve and some disapprove”
11. By Evil Report and Good Report – Some criticize and some flatter”
12. As Deceivers Yet True – Labelled with Christ as a deceiver, yet true”
What a price Paul paid to be faithful in his ministry! And yet how little the Corinthians really appreciated all he did for them. They brought sorrow to his heart, yet he was “always rejoicing” in Jesus Christ. He became poor that they might become rich ( 1 Cor 1:5; 2 Cor 8:9). The word translated poor means “the complete destitution of a beggar.”
Was Paul wrong in appealing for their appreciation? I don’t think so. Too many churches are prone to take for granted the sacrificial ministry of pastors, missionaries, and faithful church officers. Paul was not begging for praise, but he was reminding his friends in Corinth that his ministry to them had cost him dearly. Paul never stopped loving the Corinthians regardless of much the belittled his apostleship in listening to the false teachers. He remained firm and fluid in his love for these people, he had helped most of them into the family of God. It seemed as if the church at Corinth had misplaced their
love for Paul and they had lost their first love they had for him. The greatest pains a minister will ever know is the pain of knowing you have been taken for granted, it cuts deeply.