(August 30) Hope in Christ Builds Our Faith
"Since we have such a hope, we are very bold." 2 Corinthians 3:12
The Apostle Paul has an unwavering boldness as he preaches the gospel. His courage is continuously displayed in the face of opposition and persecution. Although he often encounters resistance, retreat is never an option.
Paul's enemies use his sufferings as a reason to taunt. Those who reject the gospel of grace reckon him to be a blasphemer, a betrayer, and one to be violently opposed. For Paul, the human outcome of his preaching is not his primary concern. He is steadfast in his aim to ultimately please only One, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:12 has two significant words that summarize Paul's ministry, and they are intricately connected: Hope and Boldness.
He has complete hope in the message Christ has given him and in the ministry bestowed upon him. His hope, his confident expectation, is not wrapped up in himself, but instead, is rooted in the glory of Jesus. Paul knows that the New Covenant is a message of God's provision fulfilled in Christ. The Holy Spirit is removing hearts of stone and replacing them with hearts of flesh. Spiritually dead people are being called to life and are being awakened by the life-giving ministry of the Spirit of God.
His hope in this promised work of God brings Paul boldness. This is precisely why the threats of his antagonists do not deplete his commitment to preach the gospel. His audacity is not the by-product of his education, oratory skills, or his personality. His courage comes from knowing that God will complete the work He has begun and will bring to pass that which He has promised.
So many people feel hope and boldness when people's reaction to their ministry is positive. When the crowd applauds the teaching, hope and courage abound. When our preaching is met with rejection, despair and fear settle in.
This happens when we put our hope in the wrong person. To be specific, we tend to lose heart when we trust in our gifts and experience rather than in the gospel itself. Paul clearly states that it is his confidence in the Lord, his trust in the works of God, that gives him hope and boldness.
If you lack either hope or boldness, could it be that you have put too much emphasis on yourself? Maybe you have become overly fixated on the visible results of your ministry. Perhaps you have focused a bit too much on those who oppose you.
When we focus on human approval, the results will be either pride (if things seem to go well) or despair (when things seem to fail). Both extremes can be deadly.
So, focus today on Christ. Concentrate on the message we have to share. Jesus has died and was raised. He is victorious over sin, death, and the grave. He is the Savior of those who believe. Hope in Him and live in the boldness that comes from being daily sustained by the One who will rule and reign over all things forever and ever.
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