Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our Greatest Temptation

My text is 2 Corinthians 4:1. Paul, or whoever was messing around with what Paul wrote, said: "Therefore, having this ministry, by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart..." We do not lost heart.

I have preached this text on Sunday morning. I preached it to preachers when I was a District Superintendent. I preached to some elderly residents of a retirement community. I preached to all these people because no matter what our age or whether we are clergy or lay people, this word is for us. "We do not lose heart..."

You see, our greatest temptation as Christians is not sexual stuff, though I certainly have seen my share of preachers who gave in to that. Our greatest temptation is not money, although some certainly have tried that way out. No, our greatest temptation is to lose heart, to give up in the face of the way things are.

I just heard the other day about another church member, a friend, who was laid off just before the time when he would be able to collect his pension at 60. No he has to wait until he's 65. It seems to be the way of the world. When we're young and vibrant and cheaper to employ, all is well. But, many in their fifties are let go.

And, I guess you can understand this in the kind of economy we're in now. But, as Christians this strikes at our faith. We are tempted to lose heart in the face of the way things are.

So, Paul, who was beaten and tried in the courts, who spent time in jail for his faith, could say: "Therefore, since we have this ministry, this day, this life, by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart..."

That really is true. In spite of what we are going through now, we know that nothing lasts forever. In spite of what things seem like now in the world, we know that God is still in control. In spite of whatever adjustments in spending or saving that we need to make, we do not rely only on ourselves. We rely not on our own strength or power or good works, thank God.

We rely on the mercy of God. So, it is good to remember Paul's words: "Since we have been given this ministry, this day, this life by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart..."

We keep heart, we do not give up, because of the mercy and love of God. So, hang in there whatever your pain, God is with you in mercy.

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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