13–19 August 2017.

2 Corinthians 4 (click to read).

We have a saying in English: “No good deed goes unpunished.” We go to so much effort to be nice to others and treat them well, and the only thing we get back from them is meanness and aggression! We try our hardest to help people, and instead of thanks they treat us like rubbish.

In Paul’s second letter to the church members in Corinth, we see him experiencing this same problem, and as we read his letter we can feel his pain. Paul did everything for those church members, he taught them and guided them in the right ways of the faith, he worked himself to exhaustion for them, he suffered and sacrificed for them, and even though they were a rich church Paul worked a second job on top of his ministry so they wouldn’t have to pay him. Now when Paul is exhausted and worn out by them, abused and made physically sick by them, they have the nerve to stand there and criticize him and even attack him. They accuse Paul of being dishonest, untrustworthy and shameful. They accuse him of misusing God’s word and not being a real apostle. And they accuse him of being a poor-looking, low-class embarrassment to their high-class church. Can you believe it? Paul gave his life to support those church members, and the church members despised him for it.

In our own lives, when people treat us badly after we have been so nice to them, we would probably shout and swear at them and promise ourselves never to do good things for them ever again! But incredibly that’s not what Paul does. That’s because Paul knows that we shouldn’t let other people’s sins stop us from doing what Jesus wants us to do. We shouldn’t let other people’s petty meanness and ingratitude stop us from being the good people Jesus wants us to be. Paul makes it clear to the Corinthians that the sacrifices he went through weren’t out of his devotion to them, but because of his devotion to Christ.

That’s an important reminder for us too. If we are only good to others because we want them to like us, we’ll quickly stop being good when we don’t get the reaction we want. Instead we should do good things not for popularity or prestige but because Jesus has shown us that that’s the right way to live. And even if others don’t appreciate our efforts, remember that Jesus appreciates it. In v. 17 Paul reminds us that even if others don’t care about the good way we treat them, Jesus sees and he will reward us with “an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.”

Pastor Stephen Lakkis