I Corinthians 2:1-5
Have you ever asked, “I wonder how Apostle Paul felt as he went about making disciples and planting churches? Did he feel the power of the Spirit flow through him? Did he feel confident? What advice would he give me in my situation here in _______?”
Fortunately we don't have to go far to find out, nor do we have to raise the dead. Let’s take a look at I Corinthians 2:1-5.
1. Focus on sharing the “testimony of God,” that is, on “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (vs. 1, 2). How easy it is for our focus to wander elsewhere: contextualization; linguistics; sustainability; resolving poverty issues; cross-cultural communication and adjustment; worldview and so much more, all of which have their rightful place.
Paul, however, determined to place his primary focus on Christ, not as our example (which is important), but as the Crucified One. Jesus Himself prophesied: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (Jn. 12:32 NKJV). Fruitfulness in ministry is not about us—“excellence of speech or of wisdom”—but all about Him.
Let’s point to Him verbally, courageously, frequently, daily, everywhere and to everyone. He will forever be attractive.
2. Don’t let your emotions undo you (v. 3). Paul described not only his determination, but also his emotions: weakness, fear and much trembling. How like us was this great man of God!
So often I hesitate to talk about Jesus because I feel so weak, so dry, so empty, so unworthy. We will always be so very unworthy… but the message is about Him. He will always be supremely worthy!
No matter how gifted, how well-trained, how experienced we may be, we are always in danger of listening to our fluctuating emotions and going silent because of how we feel.
Let’s not allow our feelings to have the last word! No matter what we feel or don’t feel, His words are always true; He is always faithful; He is always available to save those who hear and believe.
Let’s always remember that God loves to use weak people. This was the amazing discovery Paul made and describes in II Cor. 12:7-10: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Our weaknesses and fears open the way for a larger measure of the power of Christ to flow into and through us to others.
3. Don’t neglect your prayer life and fasting (v. 4). Paul’s speech went beyond human wisdom and persuasion to a “demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” As we attempt to share spiritual matters with people, we very soon learn that it takes more than superior, logical arguments to convince people they need to surrender to Christ.
A bit later in his letter Paul reflects that “the kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (I Cor. 4:20). Obviously we must use words… so many times we do not speak as we should and could. But still and all, we need the anointing of God’s Spirit as we speak. This anointing comes upon us as we pray, as we fast, and as we listen carefully to and obey the Spirit as He directs us.
We become so busy with the Lord’s work that we neglect the Lord of the work. I believe it was John Wesley who once said, “No one ever became apostate who did not first neglect his closet.”
Let us seek time alone with Him each day, just as Jesus Himself often withdrew to lonely places to fellowship with His Father (Luke 5:16). If He felt the need to do so, how much more do we need times alone with Him!
4. And finally, Remember the goal: that people put their trust wholly, only and always in God (vs. 5). He has not asked us to become anyone’s messiah. People come and go; we ourselves come and go. Only He will be forever present with those who surrender to Him. It is so easy to want to become the answer for people. Often people look to us to become their answer, but this is neither good for them nor for us. God allows trials in our lives to test our trust in God alone for salvation, wisdom, holiness, power for life and ministry, protection and provision. Is He enough? Is He sufficient for us?
Let us point others to Him by word and by life that they, too, may find that He is enough.