2Corinthians 01 - We Do Not Lose Heart
We Do Not Lose Heart
Since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart … (2Corinthians 4:1).
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day (2Corinthians 4:16).
The first letter we have which Paul wrote to the Corinthians Christians is well known. It is recognized as dealing with the many problems within that group and so is rightly studied to develop a better understanding of how God would have all Christians deal with individual and congregational problems. The second letter we have in Scripture, Second Corinthians, is not studied as much. It is often seen as a “follow-up” to the first letter showing the positive results of dealing with the problems. It is also seen as Paul’s continuing personal defense of his apostleship and ministry. In reality, it is both of those things, but so much more. Within this second letter, interwoven with the “follow-ups” and “defense,” is the theme of responsibility and growth necessary for all Christians. It contains vital information, instruction, and admonition for all Christians of all generations.
One area of difficulty for all Christians is the probability of encountering times where one may lose heart and be discouraged. God deals directly with this in this second letter of Paul to the Christians in Corinth. For instance, in regard to the individual involved in an improper relationship dealt with in the first letter, Paul states that his fellow Christians should work with him in such a way that he would not be overwhelmed: “Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him” (2Corinthians 2:6-8). However, Paul continues with these thoughts of losing heart in an application for all by using himself and his companions as examples.
Read the verses noted above as our foundational text (2Corinthians 4:1,16). The “we” directly applies to Paul and those with him in their mission. Indirectly, it applies to Christians generally. “Lose heart” is a figure of speech which carries with it the idea of growing weary, becoming despondent, fainting, and growing weak to the point of losing consciousness. Certainly, in Scripture there is such a thing as literally fainting (Matthew 15:32), however, when this phrase is usually used in reference to spiritual weariness and despondency.
There are several causes of losing heart:
Afflictions, that is, the pressures and distresses often experienced, frequently cause people to lose heart, so a warning is given against this danger of falling to them by way of his own example (2Corinthians 4:8-18).
Fear is another cause of losing heart. Jesus, in speaking of the things to befall Jerusalem, spoke of how fear would affect men (Luke 21:26). Many are afraid to do right, but all should rather be afraid NOT to do right (2Peter 3:10-12)!
Weariness is another cause and effect of losing heart (Galatians 6:9). Some have fought hard and long to do good, but see no let up from the Adversary, and so grow weak in the way. Think back to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1Corinthians 15:58).
Failure to pray will also cause people to lose heart. Jesus tells a parable about the benefit of continual prayer (Luke 18:1-8). This parable is written to teach the importance of this. Jesus asks a very pointed rhetorical question of us: “will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night?” There is a real soul sustainer here.
Losing faith is yet another cause and effect of losing heart (Psalm 27:13). As long as we hold faith and look to LORD, there can exist courage. “Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14). Remember Peter on the Sea of Galilee? When he stopped looking to Jesus, he sank. This illustrates this very well.
Forgetting Jesus, who He is, what He has done, is another related cause of losing heart. That is why we must always follow the admonition given in the letter to the Hebrew Christians: “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Forgetting our mission will cause us to lose heart. This is precisely one of the main points of Paul’s focus (2Corinthians 4:1,16). Paul could keep on keeping on because he knew it was for the good of the mission assigned by God. We, too, must keep our mind on the goal and not focus on ourselves.
Rebuke also causes some to lose heart because it is not taken in the proper context. We are warned that God chastises (Hebrews 12:5). How easy it is for some of us to get our feelings hurt, and we faint along the way! An additional warning: When pointing others to the truth of God’s word, never rebuke in a manner outside the context of love for that soul. Never be the catalyst for someone losing heart!
The results of losing heart are terrible. Remember what Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians: there is no reaping for those who faint (Galatians 6:9). That means there is no heaven for those who lose heart. Our attitude does make a difference. What is your attitude toward service to God?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.