God’s Servant And His Relationships

July 12, 2013

God’s Servant And His Relationships

“By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;

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.”  (II Corinthians 6:8-10).

There are nine paradoxes in these three verses. A paradox is a statement that appears to be contrary to common sense, yet it is a statement of truth.  In using the word “relationships” I’m not speaking of the relationship God’s servant has with his relatives and friends.  It has to do with his relationship with the issues of life that he has to face.  The Apostle Paul is here talking about his personal experience in working with people.  It is very likely that God’s servants today will have many of the same experiences.

By honor and dishonor

Some people are going to receive you and give you honor and praise.  Others are going to make light of you and try to discredit you.  It’s too much to expect that everyone will speak well of you.  In II Corinthians 2:15-16 the Apostle Paul used the sense of smell as an illustration of the way people react to us. “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are  the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” The word “savour,”  that Paul used here, means fragrance.   There are things we can do to make some people respect us, but not everyone.

By evil report and good report

You need to know how to react to these things in the proper manner.  There is the danger that too much praise can make us proud.  Too much criticism can leave us depressed.  It is in the plan of God that we receive some of both.  Each one serves to counterbalance the other.  Criticism keeps us humble.  Praise gives us reason to go on in spite of the difficulties.  God knows how much of each you need and when and how to give it.

As deceivers, and yet true

Don’t be surprised if your enemy accuses you of having false or hidden motives.  Instead of rising up to defend yourself every time you are falsely accused, most often it’s best to ignore it and go on doing good.  I Peter 2:15 says, “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”  In time, we will be vindicated, and our enemies will be put to shame.

As unknown, and yet well known

Paul spoke from the point of view of a stranger.  He was almost constantly on the road starting churches in various cities.  Many times it isn’t easy for a foreigner to be accepted.  If God calls you to be a missionary in a foreign country you will experience that.  When Paul arrived in a gentile city he was called “that Jew from Tarsus.” That didn’t mean he was well known. We know that he had some friends   because, at the close of most of his letters, he mentioned friends who were with him.    Perhaps there were few who called him their personal friend because they knew him well.  No doubt he was lonely at times.

To reach people for Christ you need to go out of your way to make friends.  By some, the servant of God is well known.  That gives him consolation.  When you are criticized it’s also a consolation to know that you have one friend you can always have.  His name is Jesus.  “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:14-15).

As dying, and behold we live

You, as a servant of God, may sometimes be called upon to enter into dangerous situations.  Pastors sometimes feel compelled to visit their parishioners when they are down in bed with a deadly contagious disease.  If you find yourself in that situation, put on a mask, but arm yourself with prayer.  As a missionary, I sometimes went calling door to door in what are called “emergency villages.” Some missionaries feared to go there.

In II Corinthians 11:23-26 Paul mentioned some of the life threatening situations he found himself in.  “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.    Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;    In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”  It is a consolation to know that we are immortal until the moment when God calls us home.

As chastened, and not killed

As a servant of God, you need to be ready and willing to go where he sends you.  Don’t look for an easy place to live and serve.  Sometimes God sends his servants to places where it is as though they have to do hand to hand combat with the enemy.  You can be successful if you go in the strength of the promise of II Corinthians 9:8.  “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” In the Old Testament we read of some of the dangers David had to face.  In Psalm 28:7 he said, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”

As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing

It seems like a contradiction to be rejoicing when we have abundant reason to be sad.  It isn’t the normal reaction.  One time God called my wife and I, and some others from the church, to go and minister to a lady whose husband died suddenly.  After spending some time giving her comfort and consolation, I stepped outside on the front porch where her children were.  It was raining hard and frogs were jumping in the grass.  As I stood there, I gave praise to God for putting me there where I was needed and could minister to people who needed what I had to offer.  I felt a little guilty about rejoicing at a time when I had every reason to be sad.  You, as a servant of God, may be called upon to go from having part in a funeral to performing a wedding ceremony, all in the same day.

As poor, yet making many rich

Not all riches are measured as financial assets.  There is a limit to what money can do.  Someone has written,  You may be called upon to work full time at a secular job and pastor a church, both at the same time.  That doesn’t make you any less a servant of God.  By being willing to live humbly, you can make others rich spiritually.  You will be richly rewarded.  “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven….” (Luke 6:23).

As having nothing, and yet possessing all things

You need to claim the promise of Philippians 4:19.  “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Your most valuable possessions are your family and your friends.  Make as many friends as you can.  Don’t do it by sacrificing that which is right and honorable.  If you do, you will lose the close communion you have with your greatest friend.  Jesus said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).

A rich man is a poor man if he has no friends.  You need to be diligent in providing for yourself and your family.  At the same time, Paul wants us to know that we shouldn’t be in despair because of what we don’t have.  Men fall into four possible relationships regarding poverty and riches:

  • Rich spiritually and poor economically
  • Poor spiritually and rich economically
  • Poor spiritually and poor economically
  • Rich spiritually and rich economically

Don’t think that wealth and material things are of no importance.  With them you can serve God and minister to the needs of others.  If God gives you wealth, use it prudently and responsibly.  If he doesn’t give you wealth, you can still serve him with your life.   We shouldn’t lose sight of the great value of spiritual things.  They will be with us thorough out all eternity.

What are your thoughts?  I would be delighted to have you share them with me.  Our

e-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net














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