Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:1-18, Romans 6:5-7, 2 Timothy 4:3
My husband and I have a saying in our home, “Fidelity (or faithfulness) to the Word of God and not to an outcome.” We say it to one another and to others often, because the truth is we are often more interested in controlling the outcome of a situation than we are in abiding by the Word of God.
We want success.
We want freedom.
We want peace.
We want “the scoop.”
We want to be seen rightly.
We want to defend our actions.
We want time to ourselves.
We don’t want to confront sin.
We don’t want to do hard things.
We don’t want to be held responsible.
How then, we usually find ourselves asking, can we get the desired outcome out of any situation?
I don’t think we’re alone in this. It’s human nature to spin the story, cast blame, make excuses. From the beginning of time, cunning words have been practiced and God’s words have been tampered with (Genesis 3). All it takes is a cursory glance around at the state of the Church, the government, family, and my own heart to see the practice of cunning words abounding and God’s Word still being tampered with. We are all playing chess with people, circumstances, God’s Word, and His timing—trying to get the outcome we desire or avoid the outcome we don’t want.
Within today’s passage, this is what strikes me most about Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for [Jesus’] sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). The main thing we’re doing when we try to control the outcome, hide the truth, and circumvent the hard things, is proclaim our own glory and significance. We’re trying to make ourselves look good, look right (or at least less wrong). We’re trying to raise ourselves in the estimation of others.
But look again at what Paul tells the Corinthians: “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of the darkness,’ has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus” (v. 6). This is a powerful picture, if we pay attention.
God’s glory (Christ Jesus) shines into our hearts (darkened by sin and brokenness), giving us the light of knowledge. As we’re tying ourselves into knots trying to control the narrative and the outcome, God is shining the light of Jesus into our dark hearts and giving us knowledge, the very thing we lack. (For if we had it, there would be no need to feel anxious about outcomes, because we’d always make the perfect decision.) And what knowledge is this? Look back to the beginning of the chapter:
“Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. Instead, we have renounced secret and shameful things, not acting deceitfully or distorting the word of God, but commending ourselves before God to everyone’s conscience by an open display of the truth” (vv. 1–2).
Do you want to walk in all of life with a good outcome? Do you want to be above reproach? A worshiper of the one true God? A humble, faithful, kind, gentle person? Let the light of Christ Jesus shine on your darkened heart, the one more prone to seeking out its own way than making way for God. And, having walked faithfully and according to God’s Word, let others see the outcomes in your life as they truly are—as someone holding fast to God’s truth, not their own, whose heart is alight with Christ Jesus—even if the outcomes of your life look foolish to the world. Your fidelity is to His Word and His will first.
Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.