When people see us, what to do they see? So many times we want to impress people with who we are and what we’ve accomplished. I have to admit, it’s a struggle that I am constantly fighting in my life. All of us want to be affirmed by others. But if we are living for other’s affirmations, we’ll miss the true calling God has put on our lives.
For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (5)
Paul wasn’t trying to promote himself in his ministry. He wasn’t trying to impress people with who he was and what he had accomplished. Instead, he preached Jesus. He pointed others to Jesus. As for himself, he took on the attitude that Christ commanded us to take.
So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ (Luke 17:10)
Even when he pointed at himself, he basically said, “I am nothing. It is Christ who is in me that is everything.” He told the Corinthians,
But we have this treasure (the light of the knowledge of the glory of God — verse 6) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (7)
Paul said, “We are mere containers of this treasure. Not only that, we are weak, fragile containers.” He wrote,
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. (8-11)
In other words, “We are so weak, that normally we would have been crushed by now. We’ve been hard pressed with fears from within and conflicts from without (7:5), we’ve been perplexed, we’ve been persecuted, and we’ve been struck down. We’re always on the edge of death. The only reason we’re still here is not because of us and how great we are, but because of Jesus in us. And through these things, his life shines through these fragile vessels of our bodies.
And that’s the calling God has put on us. That in our lives, Christ would shine through us. And as he shines through us, others will have his light shone into their hearts that they might be saved (6). Paul says as much in the next verse,
So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (12)
So the question you need to ask yourself is this: Who and what are you living for? Why do you do the things you do? For Paul, the answer is clear:
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. (13-14)
Because Paul was convinced that Christ died for us and was raised again, because he was convinced that God will raise him someday with Jesus along with all those who would be saved through his ministry, he spoke. He preached the gospel.
How about you? Are you convinced that Jesus died for you and was raised again? Are you convinced that there is a resurrection and that you will be raised with all your family, friends, and acquaintances who have also put their faith in Jesus?
The proof is in how we live our lives. Are we focusing others’ eyes on ourselves or on Jesus? Are we looking to glorify ourselves, or God?
May we live each day with the attitude of Paul who said,
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (15)