October 26, 2022
“So we do not lose heart.” (2 Cor 4:16a)
“Though our outer self is wasting away...” (2 Cor 4:16b)
“our” - wasting away of the outer self affects every single person. If you work out, take vitamins, eat broccoli, get regular check-ups and don’t seriously cheer for the Lions, you may slow the process a bit, but you will not and cannot stop from wasting away. You can dye your hair, whiten your teeth, wear cool glasses, drive a sporty car, but your outer self is still wasting away.
“outer” - that which is seen, temporary, transient, replaceable, that which is not the real and eternal you, but a God-given short-term tent, jar of clay, which, for the believer, always carries in the body, the death of Jesus.
“self” - you, human, bearer of the image of God, and eternal child of God, the one afflicted, but not crushed down, perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed. The one whom Jesus lived, died, rose again, ascended and is returning for.
“is” - right now this is happening, right now subatomic particles and life on the cellular level is in part failing, glitching, rebelling, creating problems like fevers, tremors, twitches, rashes, hair loss, wrinkles, strains, headaches, migraines, tumors, coughs, infections, swellings, high cholesterol, low blood pressure, high blood pressure, a-fib, tinnitus, sleeplessness, sleepiness, nausea, weight loss, weight gain, etc.
“wasting” - declining, failing, falling apart, getting weak, tired, sore, broken, stopping.
“away” - gone, done, over.
Ah, but I skipped the first word!
“Though” - in spite of, unfazed by, so what, who cares, does it really matter, is this going to stop me?
When Paul says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away…” He is not calling us to have a stiff upper lip, or to stoically stay calm and carry on. Oh no! He is calling us to look eye to eye, face to face and unflinching and unsurprising at the raw difficulties of living in a sin cursed world with a body that is “dead because of sin” (Romans 8:10). This is a tough reality check. These bodies of ours are not built to last. So, then why do we not lose heart? Because “our inner self is being renewed day by day.” Everyday that we live we are both closer to the grave and closer to God. If you only look at the former, you will be despondent. If you focus on the latter, then you can embrace the former with contentment.
Monday night, our brother (and elder) Jason Channell went home to Jesus. His death, sudden to us, is a hard reminder of the road we all travel. For some, it is sooner than others, but we are all on it. I am writing to some of you who are at the bedside of your father and mother who are close to the end. You see where the longer road of decline goes. All of us are on this road, but as followers of Christ, we have this incredible assurance that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18)
Keep these last two verses close to your heart. Preach them to yourself and together, we will not lose heart.
Sunday’s Text: Psalm 46