God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ through whom we can do all things (Philippians 4:13).
We know that there are only really two sources for everything there is. Truth comes from God and lies come from the devil. However, people are the ones who decide which god they will follow. The Word sets wonderful standards for doctrine and practice for those of us who want to be good ministers of Jesus Christ. If we adhere to the truth and walk in it, we will have the liberty God desires for us to serve His people the Bread of Life.
II Corinthians 4:1:
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
It is through God’s mercy that we have any ministry at all. The only reason we can serve people is because God was merciful to us. Paul certainly realized this. He knew it was by God’s mercy that he was able to serve in ministry and he was thankful.
I Timothy 1:12-16:
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying, [The Word is faithful.] and worthy of all acceptation [worth receiving in totality], that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
All of us in ministry obtained mercy. We continually need more and more of God’s mercy if we are to continue to function in ministry because none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, but by God’s mercy and grace we have forgiveness. Each of the Pastoral Epistles begins not just with grace and peace like the rest of the church epistles. They also note mercy, because all of us who are going to be servant leaders in the church will need plenty of God’s mercy.
The challenge we are faced with is being willing to accept reproof and correction when we err. Philippians promises that when we are otherwise minded God will reveal it to us. The question is, “Will we have the meekness to accept it?” We will if we do not faint.
The word faint in II Corinthians 4:1 is ekkakeō. Ekkakeō means to faint, or to turn out a coward, or to lose one’s courage especially in view of trial or difficulty or from moral weakness. I Peter 5:8 tells us that our “adversary the devil, who as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.” When he roars, we decide how we will react. The human weakness is to chicken out, to succumb to the fear. We will see, as we go to the Word, what we are to do in the face of the fear so that we do not turn out a coward or fail from moral weakness.
We will be tempted to faint. The New International Version translates “we faint not” as “we do not lose heart.” We do not chicken out; we do not lose courage; we do not become cowards. When it comes to the ministry, we cannot chicken out. We cannot be afraid of what others will say or do. We have to speak the truth and not be afraid. I appreciate the many e-mails I receive each week, especially those that encourage me to keep speaking the truth even if people complain and do not like it. They often come at just the right time. That is just like God.
I am tired of being concerned about what others say or think. I am concerned about what God thinks, so I do not faint. I am not going to succumb to fear. I am not going to play politics. I love you, and I do not want to hurt your feelings. But, I love you so much; I am willing to risk hurting your feelings and tell you the truth. That is how we help each other, by telling each other the truth.
II Corinthians 4:2:
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
We do our best to be honest and forthright, never handling the Word of God deceitfully. The only way to do that is by the manifestation of the truth. We must know the truth and then live according to it making it manifest or evident in our lives.
If you have ever been involved with competitive sports you may have heard the saying, “Winning is not everything. It is the only thing.” This modern-day proverb aptly describes those who play to win and are willing to do so at all costs. These people will do anything to win, especially if they do not think they will get caught. However, the end does not justify the means. Paul is clear about his ministry ethics. He did not manipulate people. He was not misleading, disingenuous, or vicious. He did not utter false things to deceive or distort the truth. He did not motivate with fear. He was not after winning at all costs. After all, he was not promoting his own will, but God’s.
Paul sets the example for us by refusing to practice various kinds of behavior that characterized his opponents. “Have renounced” in verse two is the reflexive past tense of apeipomēn; from apo away from and epō to say or speak. It means to be determined to avoid doing something – to renounce for and to oneself, to put aside, to reject. We reject the “secret and shameful ways” [NIV] or the “shameful deeds and underhanded methods” [NLT]. We simply refuse to become involved in doing anything we would not like anyone to know about. No matter how anyone else conducts their lives, we walk in truth.
Paul refuses to be dishonest, crafty or to handle the Word of God deceitfully. Although he knew of others who did, he would not. “Dishonesty” is aischunē, everywhere else it occurs in the KJV it is translated “shame.” It refers to “a sensitivity respecting a possibility of dishonor, modesty, or shame.” It is dishonesty that prompts one to conceal something from a feeling of shame.
“Craftiness” is panourgia. It is also translated “deception” [NIV] and “cunning” [NRSV]. It is a “rascally evil” a “trickery” that implies a “readiness to do anything.” “Handling deceitfully” is doloō. It is also translated “distort” [NIV] and “falsify” [NRSV]. It means “to beguile by craft,” “to make false through deception or distortion” and “to falsify or adulterate.” Although Paul’s ministry was not, other ministries were sleazy. If you have been hurt by a leader’s sins, do not let it fester any longer. Cast it to God (I Peter 5:7). Life is too short to hold on to it.