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Suffering for the Gospel's Sake

(2 Corinthians 4:5-18)

Lesson 11 -- second quarter 2000
May 14, 2000

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2000, Christian Light Publications

Why should I have to suffer for the Gospel's sake?

If I were to ask you that, what would you answer me? Be sure you tell me I'm asking the wrong question. Don't forget to point out that I seem to have the wrong attitude and the wrong perspective. And don't by-pass this opportunity to ask me why I'm following the Lord in the first place.

By the way, why are you following the Lord? (If you aren't, why not?) Take the occasion of this lesson to review your reasons for choosing the way of righteousness.

Time for another question: Does your life prove you are following the Lord? I think the first verse in our lesson text gives us at least two proofs. Let's look at them a bit.

"For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord." The one who follows the Lord closely and earnestly has no time or zeal for lifting himself up. His own agenda ceases to exist in preference to pursuing Christ's interests. Her talk is no longer an effort to impress others with what she has done or what she would like to do; rather, it is an effort to make known Jesus and His Gospel.

Maybe that strikes you as too peachy, too unreal, too "holy" or something. Rest assured that I'm not suggesting the Christian should no longer talk about anything other than the Gospel and about anyone other than Jesus. What I'm trying to get across is that the message of my life should no longer be Mark Roth but Jesus Christ.

"And ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." The follower of Jesus prefers others above himself. He doesn't mind "being a doormat" if that is what Jesus calls him to be in order to serve another. After all, who would object to serving as the Lord's doormat! So you see, the Christian's first item on the agenda is Jesus; the second item is others. For Jesus' sake. Never forget that motivator!

Recently I had a friend tell me, "I used to believe the servant theory. Unfortunately, it only seems to go one way. One side always needs to do the bending, and the other side being more 'right,' just does their thing. No reciprocity does a good job of destroying any desire to constantly be the one doing the bending." This is so true. It is also so tragic! This perspective ought to make us search our own hearts to discover our real motives for serving.

For many years the Lord has been trying to teach me that a true servant cares only about serving and blessing others. The other lesson He must continually drill me on? Only love can motivate me to serve that way.

If others don't serve, you serve anyway! Don't let the immaturity and lack of spirituality you perceive in them keep you from maturity and spirituality. Should you disobey just because you see disobedience in them?! Be thou an example of the believers. The solution is not to quit serving, no matter how sensible that may seem.

God uses others to show me the lack in my own heart. When I have come to the place (which has been often!) of allowing others to destroy my desire to serve, I have seen my heart again...and noticed that in too many cases I was not serving out of love. If your spirit of service has flagged or died because of others, ask God to renew your love. "By love serve one another" isn't just a theory!

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