In weariness and painfulness.… — 2 Corinthians 11:27
It takes hard work to get anything done in this world. If you want to do something significant, you must do significant work.
Those who do the minimum — who continually think of how to contribute as little as possible in any given situation — always remain minimal in their impact on the world around them. If a person wants to be successful or impacting in life, he must be willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the task that he has been asked to perform.
Are you the kind of worker who is willing to do whatever is necessary to finish a job the way it ought to be done? Do you see yourself as a vital member of the team whose maximum cooperation is needed and valued? Or do you just put in the minimum that is required for you to get your paycheck?
As Paul continues to tell us about his life experiences in Second Corinthians 11:27, he lets us know that he was willing to do very hard work. For him, there was no clock to punch with his time card, nor any employee’s manual to specify how many days of vacation he got off each year. Paul’s whole life was his calling. He couldn’t separate who he was from what he was called to do. His identity and purpose for living was wrapped up in the life assignment God had given him. Because of this, every minute he lived and breathed was devoted to fulfilling his divine assignment. As you shall see, he was willing to do anything that was required to fulfill that call.
Paul uses the words “in weariness” to describe the incredible effort, toil, and physical exertion he put forth to fulfill God’s calling on his life. The words “in weariness” are taken for the Greek word kopos. This word was also used in Second Corinthians 11:23, where Paul told us that he worked harder than anyone else he knew.
As noted earlier (see October 18), the word kopos represents the hardest, most physical kind of labor. It often pictured a farmer who works in the field, enduring the extreme temperatures of the afternoon sunshine. Although the temperatures are hard to endure, he strains, struggles, and toils to push that plow through the hardened ground. This effort requires his total concentration and devotion. No laziness can be allowed if that field is going to be plowed. The farmer must travail if he wants to get the job done.
Many people have the false idea that ministry is comprised primarily of sitting around praying and reading the Bible. The truth is, however, that ministry is very hard work. This is why Paul referred to it as “the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). To fulfill one’s ministry effectively and responsibly, a great deal of hard work is required.
A minister must be willing to give his life to the task of pushing back the kingdom of darkness and establishing newly saved people into a stable and mature Christian walk. Effective ministry requires a person to work long hours, to be focused, to crucify his flesh, and to do whatever is necessary to see that God’s Kingdom is furthered. The minister must fight off the devil’s attacks, deal with people’s instability, deliberately decide not to be hurt or wounded by those who disappoint him, and spend enough time with God to always have a fresh word from Heaven. Let me tell you from personal experience, friend — to do all this effectively demands a minister’s entire life. This is why Paul called it the “work of the ministry.”
Paul goes on to further elaborate about the way he had given himself so entirely and had so thoroughly devoted himself to the work of the ministry. He uses the phrase “in painfulness” to tell us the extent to which he had worked to achieve God’s purposes.
The words “in painfulness” come from the Greek word mochthos. This word has to do with the idea of struggle. The word mochthos is the picture of a person who has worked so hard that he is about to collapse. He is exhausted from physical labor.
You could say that this person is physically worn out because he has overdone it. His job demanded a level of physical commitment that was beyond what is considered normal. But the job needed to be done, so he kept pushing, pushing, and pushing himself further and further. Like it or not, it wasn’t a time to rest. It was a time to toil.
Paul uses this word to amplify the message of how hard he worked in his ministry. You see, ministry wasn’t a job that Paul worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Paul’s entire life was consumed with and committed to fulfilling what God called him to do. It was the driving motivation of his life and the purpose for his existence.
The King James Version calls this type of hard work “painfulness,” but that isn’t the best translation. The only thing “painful” about Paul’s consuming drive to obey God was what it doled out to the flesh, which always wants to take an easier, lazier course of action.
A better understanding of mochthos would be to work yourself until you physically feel depleted of strength. This is the picture of an individual who is dog-tired and drained and who feels like his physical strength is nearly used up. But by using this word, Paul isn’t complaining! He’s rejoicing that in his weakness, God’s power has enabled him to push beyond the normal capacity of human strength.
Because Paul had a heart to never fail or give up, God’s power came upon him and empowered him to do what other men and women could not physically do. Even physical weariness was not a strong enough impediment to stop this man of God.
It is just a fact that it takes hard work to do anything that is going to be successful. Those who try to avoid going the extra mile in doing their work with excellence will never reach the pinnacle of success.
Do you want to be super-successful in life? Then you must go above and beyond what everyone else is doing. If you continually put in only the minimum amount of work and effort that is necessary, you’ll produce nothing more than the minimum with your life. In order to achieve something spectacular, you have to do something spectacular and unique to make it happen.
I urge you today to take a good look at your work habits and to evaluate what kind of worker you are. If you continue at the same pace and level of excellence you are working at today, where will you be in five years? To get to a place of greater responsibility, authority, and blessing, what changes do you need to make in the way you work?
My Prayer for Today
Lord, help me to be a good employee! I know I can do more than I’ve done and perform at a much higher level. And if I give 100 percent of myself to my place of employment, I know I can help my employer make a better profit and become more efficient. Please forgive me for taking a salary for work that hasn’t been done with a full commitment to excellence. Jesus, I want to change in this area of my life. I ask You to help me become conscientious about the way I perform at my job.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am a good employee. I am so faithful at the tasks given to me that my employer or supervisor trusts me completely when I am assigned a new task. Because I work with all my heart, I bring blessing to my place of employment and to my employer. Every day the Spirit of God is showing me how I can improve in my work skills. Because I am a blessing at my place of employment, I give a good testimony of Jesus Christ to everyone I work with.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. If you were the boss, would you be pleased with your work performance? Would you want to hire someone who has your work habits?
2. If your employer was specifically asked to describe your attitude and level of production as one of his employees, what do you truthfully think he would have to say about you?
3. If you were the boss, would you consider a worker like you to be an asset who can help take the company to a higher level of success? Or would you conclude that such a worker is just a low-level wage earner who will never add anything of much value to the company?