Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"Play it again, Sam"

Once again, Sam Storms has sent out a profound, soul-freeing message via email. This morning's is entitled "The Treasure, quite simply, is Christ." It is part of a series on 2 Corinthians.

Even for Paul, gospel ministry could be like river-rafting -- a wild ride up and down, including "honor and dishonor, slander and praise, treated as impostors and yet true," and so forth (2 Corinthians 6:8-9). What stabilized him? What sweetened him? What was that inner spring of personal renewal that wouldn't let him quit in disgust but, far from it, kept lifting his heart into joy and freshness? What treasure did his heart lay hold of that more than offset the buffetings and losses and humiliations of his ministry? "The Treasure, quite simply, is Christ."

Paul tried to please everyone in every way (1 Corinthians 10:33). He was a softie, accommodating people's prejudices as much as he could. In his respect for people of all types, he thought carefully about how to avoid unnecessary collisions with their pre-set "truths" about life, how to fly in under their radar and surprise them with the goodness of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:32). What a sweetheart this man was. But pleasing people was not his ultimate aim.

His ultimate aim was "to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him" (Colossians 1:10). Sometimes people weren't pleased with Paul. It hurt him deeply (2 Corinthians 2:4). But it did not embitter him. Why? Paul found that Jesus is not hard to please. His yoke is easy. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. He receives a modest effort, sincerely offered, as well pleasing in his sight. Jesus is such a good boss to work for. We are always drawn back to him and comforted.

The approval of Jesus, everflowing in our justification and readily given -- he is so humble -- in our service, is priceless, for he himself is priceless. His gracious smile puts heart back into us and gives us energy for more and more ministry. We hope to please people for his sake, but we are not devastated when they are displeased, as long as we have the "Well done" of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Sam, for reminding me today of the supreme value of Jesus. How freeing.

You can check out Sam's excellent ministry at: