As I was rereading these verses, it struck me that Paul was truly following the pattern of Christ.
If Christ had merely been concerned about his own comfort, he would never have come to earth. He would never have been born in a stable. He would never have lived in a poor carpenter’s house. He would never have gone days at a time without a place to lay his head. He most certainly would never have gone to the cross. But he did. Why?
For our comfort and salvation. We were miserable because of all the sin and evil in this world. More, we were headed for destruction. And because Christ saw all of that, he gave up the comfort of his life in heaven and allowed him to become afflicted for us.
Paul saw Christ’s example, and he followed it. For the sake of the Corinthians and all those he was serving, he was willing to go through shipwrecks, imprisonment, times of hunger and want, and persecution. Why? Because he saw beyond his own comfort. And he saw the utter hurt and need of these people he was ministering to.
Even when Paul experienced comfort, his focus wasn’t completely on himself. Rather, he saw it as being an encouragement to the Corinthians. That they would see that Paul’s troubles, hard though they were, were nevertheless temporary. That he found relief and God’s joy. And so as they went through their own trials, they would have hope that just as Paul had found God’s comfort in his life, they would eventually find comfort as well. And with that hope, it would give them the courage to endure any troubles that they suffered through.
It can be so easy to be self-centered. To, as I said yesterday, live like a sponge simply soaking up God’s love and to just live a comfortable life.
But God calls us to see beyond ourselves. To follow Christ’s example and be willing to give up our comforts, and even be willing to suffer that others may be saved.
If that’s ever going to happen, though, we need the eyes of Jesus. Eyes that see the utter hurt and need of the people around us. Eyes that drove Jesus to the cross. Do you have those eyes?
Lord Jesus, too often I live for myself. I live for my own comfort and satisfaction. Forgive me. Lord there are so many people around me who are hurting. Who need you. Help me to see them through your eyes. To see into their very hearts and to see their needs. Give me your compassion. Father of mercies and God of all comfort, let your mercies and comfort flow through me, your child. In Jesus name, amen.