2Co 6:9-10 “As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
Paul speaks to us in the previous verses of this chapter about situations we may find ourselves in as we show ourselves to be the ministers of God. He warns us of trouble, imprisonment, sleepless nights, and doing without. He encourages us as he tells us by what means we may endure these things while we exhibit that we are the ministers of God; by the Holy Ghost, by the power of God, by pureness and unfeigned love. The verses under consideration today contrast how we may appear to the world versus the real truth of the matter.
While true ministers of God may gain some recognition (as Paul did), it is not recognition of self that we seek. We are willing to remain in the background that the Jesus might have the preeminence in everything. It is not important whether men remember our names, but rather that they are made aware of the truth of Jesus Christ by the gospel we preach and live through the power of the Holy Ghost. It is not we as ministers of God that need to be well known, but instead it is the ministry of reconciliation itself.
We all understand on some level that these bodies are dying, and yet we shall never die. The frailer we become in the flesh, the more glorious the life of Jesus that we bear in these bodies becomes. In being made dead to the love of sin, we live in honor of our Lord and Savior. It is our desire that men see (behold) this wonderful truth that He must increase and we must decrease (Joh 3:29-30).
Although we often dread it, it is necessary that we be disciplined along the way. Through the loving discipline of our Heavenly Father, we learn how to walk and live in this world. He instructs us in what it requires to exhibit that we are His ministers. We learn that there is deliverance in His discipline and not death. Therefore, we can rejoice when we are abused at the hands of men, being found worthy to suffer shame for His name (Act 5:41).
As we labor in His kingdom, we will be faced with sadness at the hardness of men’s hearts. At times, we may look at ourselves and feel distress because of our shortcomings. Others may see our labors and consider us pitiful indeed. However, the truth of God’s love in our lives keeps our hearts in a state of rejoicing that others may sometimes see and sometimes not.
We often think of rejoicing as requiring a sense of utmost ecstasy. The word carries for most today the idea of an outward show of great excitement, giddiness, and tears of joy. While it can manifest itself in this way, the meaning of the word translated as rejoicing actually means to be calmly happy and the word “alway” implies with regularity. Rejoicing is the deep peace and fellowship we have with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This is a constant assurance in our lives.
We may not have riches as the world counts being rich. However, to be sent by God to those He has prepared to hear the truth of salvation by His sovereign grace alone enriches the lives of His people in a way that nothing else ever will: it is a wealth that does not fail like the things of this world. We may appear destitute, but all things are ours, and we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1Co 3:21-23).
May we “alway” rejoice and give God glory as His ministers!