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The Cost

Published 12/13/19

Read 2 Corinthians 12:10

"For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."


Reflect

What was Paul given to keep him from becoming proud? (See 12:7). How did Paul react, and how did God respond?


At what point will you give up? When will you stop trying? The answer to those questions depends a lot on what it is you're trying to do. But it also depends on why you're trying to do it.


Reality shows on television do a good job of exploring these questions. They place men and women in various extreme situations, and we the viewers watch to see how far these people will go for, say, a million dollars. And usually, the winner is the one who decides early on that they'll do whatever it takes to reach the goal. That no matter what hardships they have to face today, the payoff tomorrow will make it all worthwhile.


If the goal were a million dollars, how hard would you push yourself? Probably pretty hard. But let's change the question: If the goal were one soul saved for Christ, what would you be willing to endure?


In the Bible, we read about the apostle Paul who many consider the greatest missionary ever. He lived in the years right after Christ returned to heaven. If you look at a map of the Mediterranean region and follow the coast from Israel to Italy, Paul and his partners were largely responsible for bringing the gospel to all the lands in between (and possibly Spain too!).


It wasn't an easy life. In his second letter to the people of Corinth Paul takes a moment to describe some of the hardships he faced as a missionary. He faced, "imprisonments, with countless beatings, and [was] often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers" (2 Corinthians 11:23-27, ESV).


Why did he do it? What was possibly worth all of that? Paul tells us why a few verses later. "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV).


Pray

Lord, thank You for the many ways You have blessed my life. Please give me the strength to continue when I feel weak. Amen.


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