After talking about the weakness he’s made to endure, after showing how he takes pleasure in weaknesses, reproaches, persecutions and distresses, Apostle Paul says something that really becomes an eye opener for me.
“For Christ’s sake.”
The only reason he will take the shame, the pain and the rain is for Christ’s sake. If it is not for Christ’s sake he won’t take it.
If we Christian people aren’t careful we could accept anything, anyhow, anywhere and from anybody with “joy and gladness” thinking we are being very spiritual.
The only reason that authorizes you to endure suffering is for Christ’s sake. If it’s not for that reason, get out of there.
If it’s not for the name of God to be glorified, if it’s not for the gospel to reach the uttermost parts, if it’s not to help a brother/sister in distress, get out of there.
When a year comes to an end and we get ready to begin a new year, it is a time for reflection. This reflection might be based on the successes and failures of the past year or an entire life time. For some, the conclusion is overwhelmingly positive while for others, there is really nothing to write home about. Some people feel like just throwing the towel, pulling up a white flag and quitting the fight. They have toiled but their efforts seem to be in vain.
No effort is ever in vain; even your mistakes and failures are a lesson to the future generation. Remember Thomas Edison.
For me, the past year has not been an easy one. I have walked down the same road most of you have trodden. There have been moments of joy but also times of great distress. I have cried and I have laughed. Sometimes, I have had to give my shoulders for others to cry on but at other times, I badly needed someone to offer me theirs. I gave encouraging words to people on some days but on others I did not feel like getting out of bed myself. But in all this I kept my eyes focused on God who gives life to the dead and calls those things that are not as if they were (Romans 4:17). Then I remember that I have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). Even if I do not yet see them, I have God’s word that it shall come to pass. I am alive and I have Jesus on my side: I still have all my chances.
In God’s kingdom, overtaking is permitted for those who are smart enough to take it by force. I might be the last in the race, but don’t give up on me yet because the race is not yet over. All I need is the grace for speed and acceleration. (Remember Perez-Genesis 38:29). I can still pursue, overtake and recover all that I have lost or failed to achieve provided I encourage myself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6, 8).
As we look forward to the unfolding of this year 2014, let us look forward to greater achievements in the future. And if we must look back, it should not be with regret but to gather momentum because we have on us an exceeding grace for acceleration, speed and overtaking.