Paul’s “But”

S and SHow has your personality changed since you were a teenager or in your early 20s. The younger a person is, the more likely they are to be carefree, adventuresome, lighthearted, and/or jovial. In most instances life sends sticks and stones which over time have a cumulative effect often resulting in “the straw that broke the came’s back” where the person isn’t near as lighthearted, jovial, or carefree. Some get so beaten down by life’s sticks and stones they become morose. Consider what Paul wrote…

2 Cor 4:7 We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live (Christians) are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Afflicted in every way… BUT! Perplexed… BUT! Persecuted… BUT! Struck down… BUT! Those are four really big “buts,” about which I’d like to make a suggestion. Everything in this passage is FROM God which the Christian experiences in participatory passivity! Let me explain.

Vs 7, “The surpassing power belongs to God and not to us is a huge foundational statement for this passage and daily living! THAT the events of 4:8-12 take place in the Christian means GOD is providentially and sovereignly doing it Himself (“It is God at work in you to will and accomplish His good pleasure.”). In 4:11-a the Christian is “given over” to difficulties… which means it is done TO them, outside their will and choosing.

Being given over contrary to the Christian’s preference is for a another God ordained reason… for Jesus’ life to be “Manifested in our mortal flesh” (4:11-b). The things that happen TO believers are so that GOD, JESUS, and the SPIRIT will be glorified… magnified… and honored! Our life is not about us! It is about honoring God.

As long as we keep in our puny little heads that the things that happen are about us RATHER THAN GLORIFYING GOD, we will be frustrated in life. However, when we embrace life events are to glorify God, then our sufferings are transformed into joy.

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