As I was reading my Bible, I came across 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. I felt such a conviction in my heart that my eyes started to water. In this piece of Scripture, we see that Paul was speaking about the few things that have happened to him while spreading the Gospel. I would like to list them to bring them into the light for everyone today. Please keep in mind that everything that he went through was because he was preaching the Gospel everywhere he went.
1. Paul was imprisoned multiple times. 2. He was beaten more times than he can number. 3. He had multiple instances where he almost faced death. 4. Five times he received 39 lashing from the Jewish people. 5. Three times he was beaten by rods. 6. He was stoned once and left for dead. 7. He was shipwrecked. 8. He dealt with the dangers of the rivers, robbers, the people he was trying to minister to (the Gentile community), the wilderness that he had to travel in. 9. Paul had to deal with extreme temperature changes (both hot and cold). 10. Paul had to deal with the dangers of false brothers. 11. Paul often had to suffer from thirst and hunger.
Paul shared this with his audience to show his steadfastness in Christ. He also boasted about everything that he had to deal with because, in these times of weakness, he found strength only in the Lord. It was in these times of weakness that the Holy Spirit was able to comfort him and encourage his ministry. Paul shared this with his audience to honor God, who gave him the ability to suffer so much for the cause of Christ and His Gospel.
When reading this and truly meditating on what Paul was saying, I felt ashamed. Who am I to complain about the small inconveniences of my life. I started to think about this application not only inside my ministry but outside of it too. How many times have I complained about the very blessings that God provided me with? I don’t know about you, but I felt that I needed to do more and be better than I am now. I asked myself, have I truly tried to preach the Gospel and fulfill the Great Commission or have I only preached out of my own selfish ambitions? You see, it is upon these questions that the Holy Spirit confirmed in my heart that we all have so much more to grow.
We cannot sit still and expect the Gospel to spread to all of the world. Our faith is about action! Christ did not say that He loved us and would die for us, He did it. He lived what he preached and each and every one of us is called to emulate His life and sacrifice. Like Paul, we will have to go through times that we will be uncomfortable or even have to go through difficult circumstances. However, it is upon these situations that our faith can be strengthened like Paul’s faith was. Then like Paul, we can boast about what the Lord did for us. This only helps us build our testimony to be able to defend our faith (1 Peter 3:15). If the Lord did not help us get through anything difficult in our lives, then what type of God do we serve? Do we not have the God of Abraham? Is He not the God of Jacob and David? All of God’s messengers dealt with difficult and dire circumstances and each and every one of them were able to boast about how our God got them out of their situations or allowed them to endure.
So, I ask everyone here today, have you had to endure for your faith? It is not until we have to endure hardships for our faith that we can truly see the grace, love, and mercy of God in our lives. So, I am challenging everyone reading this message that we need to get uncomfortable and walk out our faith. Being a Christian is about action. Being a Christian is not about memorizing Scriptures, but showing that Christ lives in your heart. It is about allowing the Holy Spirit to take control over your every being, and then doing what He is guiding us to do. This is what Paul did for Christ and so can we!
I would like to conclude this message with a simple prayer. I pray that we can have the heart and conviction of the early apostles. I pray that we can walk out our faith under the most difficult circumstances and overcome them through the grace of God. I pray that we can start to get uncomfortable and show the world Christ not only through our words but through our actions as well. I pray that we can learn this simple lesson from the life of Paul. Amen.