by Jim Murphy
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.” 2 Corinthians 2:14
When we reach out to the world for the purpose of showing and sharing the gospel message, Christ leads us “in triumphal procession” just as He led Paul throughout his missionary journeys. Whether we are trying to reach our family, next-door neighbor, co-worker, community, world, Jesus leads us to be a fragrance of grace, pointing a lost world to Him. 2 Corinthians 2:14 teaches us three very important truths that are essential to keep in mind as we Go.
1. We should be thankful.
In this verse, we see Paul was a thankful missionary. As he went around the Roman world, in hardship and ease, Paul spread the gospel with gratitude. Even when things did not work according to his plans, he was thankful that God was using him to fulfill His perfect plan. Thankfulness is an important part of being a Christ follower. From the grand moments of life to countless minute details, God has richly blessed us. He did not have to, but He is a good Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). Included in those gifts is the privilege of being sent as a missionary.
Do we Go with a sense of thankfulness? Do we Go with the awareness that being sent is God’s gift? Every time we take a step to show and share Christ we should not wander from being thankful. What cultivates the persistent thankfulness that Paul exemplified? Why should we be thankful to Go?
We should be thankful in our going because…
2. Our God leads us triumphantly!
Paul was thankful because the Father led him in Christ triumphantly. On our own, we are weak and unable to live a faithful life of mission. It would truly be an exercise in futility if Jesus sent us without the promise of His continuing presence. However, Jesus promised to be with us “always until the end of the age!” (Matthew 28:20). Paul knew he was weak, that his plans would change and fail, and that he could not change human hearts, but he also knew something else. He knew the One who is strong. He knew the One whose plans always succeed. He knew the One who has the power to resurrect the dead. Paul was thankful because he was not alone, God was with him, leading him and using him for His glory. What a difference it is to be a missionary who is driven by these convictions with joy and thankfulness rather than drudgery!
“If we were enthusiastic soldiers of the cross, through God’s help nothing would be able to stand against us!” Charles Spurgeon.
Do we Go with thankfulness because our God leads us in victory? Do we show the world that we Go with the authority of the one true King who not only commands us to go, but who actually leads us into the mission field? If not, why? Where is our view corrupted? What areas of our lives do we need shaped through God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit to be missionaries who are thankful because God leads us victoriously?
We should be thankful because our God leads us triumphantly and…
3. We are included in what God is doing!
“Whatever God is going to do in the world, He is primarily going to do it through all of Christ’s people,” (Renovation: Divine Design In The Church; Dwight Smith).
God is on mission redeeming a people back to Himself through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The Church is included in this redemptive mission in two ways:
1. We are redeemed from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light in Christ. We have received mercy and our relationship with God has been reconciled. In short, we are people of grace! (Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 2; 1 Peter 2:10)
2. God triumphantly leads the church to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere. In other words, God works through each one of His people in every facet of their life, so that those around them have the opportunity to see what Christ is like and hear His message of salvation (John 20:21; Ephesians 1:21; 2:10; 2 Corinthians 2:14).
We can and should be thankful missionaries because God leads us and includes us in what He is doing. What a privilege to be included in God’s plan of redemption, not just through our own salvation, but also in the reaching of others! Not only does He include us, He is the one who works through us to spread the knowledge of His son Jesus. The gospel not only saves us, it restores our relationship with God, and gives us greater purpose for our lives. There is so much for which we should be thankful!
Do you realize the implications of these truths for your life? If all of Christ’s people did, do you think the way the Church evangelizes would look different? If so, how would it be different? How would this change the way you and your family live? How would it change the way your small group functioned?
Seeking to live as a faithful missionary can often be stopped before it starts because we fail to understand the powerful truths in this passage. May you and I ponder them deeply and allow them to shape the way we engage the lost world. May we be thankful missionaries because our God leads us and includes us in His mission to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere!