Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant…
— 2 Corinthians 11:23
I personally gain strength when I consider the many victories the Lord gave the apostle Paul. He had multiple challenges that came against him and his ministry, but none of them ever stopped him from his task. As noted earlier (see August 3), it is simply a fact that those who preach the Gospel in difficult parts of the world often encounter extremely hostile situations. In order to overcome these situations, a person has to possess a strong, internal resolution that no devil, no person, no government, and no force is going to stop him from executing the assignment God has given to him.
But this isn’t true only of people who serve on the front lines of the Gospel. It is also true for you. God has a plan for your life. He has a specific vision He wants you to discover and achieve. On the other hand, you have an enemy who doesn’t want you to find that vision. And I want to warn you — from the moment you do discover God’s plan for your life, that enemy will try to stop you from achieving it.
But don’t worry, friend — God has given you all the promises you need to overcome every attack Satan arrays against you. However, in order for those promises to be effective, you have to decide that you are going to stand in faith and resist each attack!
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Because of the challenges my wife and I have encountered in our own ministry, I find great strength when I study about the attacks that came against the ministry of the apostle Paul. I like to read about how he persisted and overcame these attacks. The events Paul encountered would have shattered a normal man. But because he used his faith and kept his focus on the prize before him, Paul was able to override and supercede each act of aggression that Satan perpetrated against him. There is no doubt that Paul was hindered by these devilish attacks, but they never stopped him. The devil wasn’t able to stop Paul because the apostle had made a commitment to be unstoppable.
In Second Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul describes some of the difficulties and hassles he encountered in the ministry:
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.
Let’s look more closely at this list of difficulties so you can see what Paul faced as he carried out God’s will for his life. Keep in mind that regardless of the cost or the roadblocks Satan tried to set before him, none of these difficulties ever knocked Paul out of his spiritual race. When you see the hardships Paul faced in the fulfillment of his life assignment, your hardships will pale by comparison! Here’s what Paul tells us that he experienced:
Labors More Abundant
Paul says that in the course of his ministry, he worked “…in labours more abundant….” He uses the Greek word kopos to describe the kind of “labor” he put forth in the fulfillment of his apostolic call. This word kopos represents the hardest, most physical kind of labor. It is often used to picture a farmer who works in the field, enduring the extreme temperatures of the afternoon sunshine. The farmer strains, struggles, and toils to push that plow through that 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 that job done.
This word kopos is the same word Paul uses to describe the kind of worker he is! He’s perhaps the hardest worker he knows! In fact, he goes on to say, “…In labours more abundant….” The word “abundant” is the Greek word perissos. It is used here in the superlative sense, meaning very abundantly. It would be best translated, “I worked more abundantly than most men” or “I worked more than you could even begin to comprehend.”
By making this statement, Paul emphatically declares, “When it comes to hard work, no one is a harder worker than I am!” He has personally put out incredible energy to apprehend what Jesus apprehended him to do (see Philippians 3:12).
I personally like this scripture because I believe in doing hard work. We live in a day when the work ethic is not what it once was. People are much “softer” than they used to be. The older generation who lived through World War I, World War II, and the hard economic times of the 1930s have a totally different mindset about work than the present generation. These older people lived through hard times and had no choice but to work hard to build their lives. They worked and worked and worked, and as a result, they achieved much and built great nations.
Today’s generation knows little of hardship. I thank God for the great blessings that have come on the nations during these last days. However, much of it has come so easily for the younger generation that they don’t comprehend the great price the older generation paid to build this easy success for them. When members of the younger generation are asked to do something extra or sacrificial, many of them resent the request or consider it to be almost abusive. Rather than focus on how they can do something extra to contribute to the health and success of the business, organization, or church, they just want to know if they are going to be paid for their efforts.
Paul was not a clock-watcher. He worked harder than anyone else he knew. Although we like to think of the mighty anointing that was on his life, a key factor to his amazing success as an apostle was that he worked at it harder than anyone else. Hard work always produces the best results.
Friend, if you want to be successful or to achieve more than others, you have to develop the mentality that you are going to do more than anyone else is doing. If you only do what everyone else is doing, you will produce nothing better than anyone else.
Align yourself with the apostle Paul. Determine to follow his example so that one day you’ll be able to say, “When it comes to hard work, no one is a harder worker than I am!”
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I want You to help me become a worker who pleases You. Help me also to please my employer and direct supervisor with the quality of my work. Forgive me for wanting to take it easy and for complaining when I am asked to do something extra or to fulfill a task that isn’t in my job description. I want to be the kind of Christian worker who brings joy and pleasure to those who are over me and who presents a good testimony to the name of Jesus. This is really my desire, so I am asking You to help me to do more, to be more, and to demonstrate an attitude of excellence regarding my work!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am a Christian who brings glory to the name of Jesus by the way I work and the attitude I demonstrate on the job. When people think of me, they think of how willing and cooperative I am to do anything that needs to be done and what a pleasure it is to work with me. When my attitude is wrong, I quickly repent and let the Holy Spirit make me what I should be. My supreme desire is to please God and to do a good job for those who pay me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. If it were time for your boss to review your work habits and attitudes, would he find you to be a hard worker or one who just does the minimum on the job? If you were the boss, would you be satisfied with an employee who demonstrates the attitudes you do at the workplace?
2. How does the quality of your work reflect on the name of Jesus Christ? Do you believe that your work habits and attitudes give others a good impression of Jesus, or does working with you leave people with a bad impression about Christians?
3. What are the specific areas in your work habits or attitudes that need to be improved? Why don’t you write these areas down so you can pray about them as a part of your daily prayer regimen?