Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, February 4, 2024
Shavuah Tov,

Rabbi’s Note:  Many of you will remember Jerry Miller.  He has ministered on several occasions at Shomair including Sukkot a couple of years ago.  We are so blessed that he accepted my invitation to write some RRs for us.    His first book, “Grace Beyond Reason” is one of the best books I’ve ever read.  In it, Jerry uncovers eternal truths to give a fresh perspective on “grace,” like never before.  The book is available here:  graceempowers.org   End RN.

Don’t Lose Heart!
by Jerry Miller

“For this reason, since we have this ministry, just as we received mercy, we do not lose heart.” (2 Corinthians 4:1, TLV)

When we see our shortcomings, it can be such a temptation to get frustrated with ourselves, and even to lose heart.  Seeing the frequency of our stumbling, we can find ourselves wondering if we will ever “get our act together”. Actually, there is nothing wrong with being frustrated with our shortcomings, as long as the frustration does not blind us to what we are becoming by God’s grace. What do I mean by that?  Let me explain.  One of the most encouraging descriptions I have heard on God’s grace, describes it as, the empowering work of God, enabling me to become, the person God Himself already sees me as being.  In other words, God has vision for our lives, and His grace is what enables us to come into that vision.  This is related to life transformation as well as specific calling and destiny.  God has such confidence in the empowering work of His grace, that He sees us based on His vision for us.

But again, we can easily become frustrated with ourselves, as we see our many areas of imperfection.  Such frustration can easily lead us into condemnation, which does indeed blind us to God’s vision for our lives. Paul’s words to the congregation in Corinth should encourage us in this regard. He wrote, “For this reason, since we have this ministry, just as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1, Emphasis added). Let’s consider this verse in context to see its importance.

This immediately follows the verse from chapter 3:18. Understand that the chapter divisions in our modern translations were not part of the original manuscripts. My opinion is that the insertion of a chapter division between 3:18 and 4:1 can leave us missing the actual connection of these two verses. I do not believe Paul is beginning a new thought in chapter 4:1, and I think this becomes clear as we note the progression of his thinking here.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul writes of the transforming of our lives “from glory to glory.” We are being conformed into the image of Yeshua.  Paul identifies this work as a ministry of the Spirit of God. As our eyes are on Yeshua, we are being transformed into His image by the Spirit. So, chapter 4:1 continues the same thought, and we know this because of the word “therefore,” or “for this reason” at the beginning of verse 1. He then writes, “since we have this ministry…” (emphasis added). What ministry is he referring to? It does not really fit the context to say he is speaking of his own apostolic ministry to the nations. I believe the ministry he is referring to is the ministry of the Spirit described in the previous verse. He is talking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us, to transform us from glory to glory. In God’s mercy, He releases this powerful work of His Spirit to bring transformation to our lives. Because of this ministry, by God’s mercy, we do not lose hope.

When we want to serve God but fall short in different ways, we are tempted to lose heart, wondering if we are just fighting a losing battle in our desire for obedience and victory over sin. But Paul is pointing us to the mercy of God to forgive us when we fall short. Then, beyond that, there is the ministry of the Spirit to actually work transformation in us, taking us from glory to glory, even though we still fall short. It should encourage us greatly as we realize that God is still working in us, even though we have fallen short, and He even sees us according to the likeness of Yeshua into which we are being transformed. Since we have this ministry (the transforming ministry of the Spirit), we do not lose heart. Yes, we can be tempted to lose heart, but we do not give in to it. We do not get bogged down by condemnation or hopelessness, as we see and believe that God is indeed taking our lives from glory to glory. That is His grace to us, ministered by the Holy Spirit. He has a goal for our lives, a glorious destination of likeness to Yeshua, and He is overseeing the process, bringing us into that goal by His grace.

God does not give up on us, and we should never give up on ourselves, as we are encouraged daily by the ministry of His Spirit.  Even though we still fall short, we are receiving the ministry of His Spirit to lift our lives into the victory God has purposed for us.  We will all fall short, but our failures to not have to leave us discouraged.  Be quick to acknowledge sin, quick to repent, and quick to return to the fellowship God has for us, where we can get back on track in this life of going “from glory to glory” by His Spirit.  Yes, because of this glorious ministry of the Spirit, we do not lose heart.  May this be our testimony!

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
25 Sh’vat Sunday 4-Feb-24
Exodus 21:1-19 1 Kings 13 Psalm 104 John 1:1-23 1 Timothy 1