“TO RID OR TO KEEP”                                   By Pastor YAU

2 Corinthians 12:7-10                                         May 2, 2010.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Good Riddance Day: A gigantic shredder ate hundreds of pieces of paper and other items in New York City on December 28, 2008. Organizers of the “Good Riddance Day” encouraged people to bring to Time Square their bad memories and suffering of 2008 and feed them into that industrial strength shredder or toss them into a super size dumpster as a symbol of their desire to rid off the suffering of their life. Papers shredded included stock market statements, cancer treatment reports, foreclosed-house notice and printed email from boyfriends and girlfriends who broke up with them, just to mention a few.

2)   Our riddance desire: We all long to have something or someone who can just “shred” away our painful memories of bad things others have done to us or difficult circumstances we are facing. Difficulties burden us as we mull them over in our minds, affecting our relationships and outlook of life. The apostle Paul wanted immediate relief from his present suffering of infirmity which made him weak. God didn’t answer his prayers the way he wanted it. Instead God offered him a remedy for his request: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)God didn’t shred away the problem for Paul. Instead He provided grace for Paul to live with it.

 

THINGS GOD WANTS US TO GET RID: There are close to 200 listings in the Bible, things God wants His people, and us, to get rid off. Just select a few to begin our search of riddance:

1)   Get rid of all the idols: “So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him: Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.” (Gen. 35:2)This is the first act of ridding in the Bible and is about rid off all the idols in God’s people. Getting rid of idols in the heart of God’s people is the first commandment in the Bible. God wants the supreme position in our hearts and life. He cannot and will not share the loyalty of His people with any idols. Anything or anyone who keeps a position in your hearts higher than God is an idol and we need to get rid of it to please God.

2)   Get rid of sins in our hearts: “David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord: I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away (rid off) the guilt (sin) of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (2 Sam. 24:10)We all have done foolish things as David did. When the Spirit of God or the word of God convicts us of sins in our hearts, we need to have the same courage to confess our sins and ask God to help us rid them off. Allowing sin to continue occupying our hearts will block our lifeline to communicate with God. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18)

3)   Get rid of evil of the fresh: “Remove sorrow from your heart and put away (rid off) evil from your fresh.” (Eccl. 11:10)These are words of wisdom by King Solomon on the relationship between the evil of the fresh and sorrow of the heart. Most of the sorrows we suffer are results from the evil of the fresh. So, ridding the evil of the fresh is ridding the roots of sorrow of the heart. Even though Jacob lived to 130 years of age, but in reflecting of his past, his heart was filled with sorrow when he confessed: “Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been.” (Gen. 47:9)

4)   Get rid of all acts of evil: “Get rid of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Eph. 4:31)These are acts of sin and evil against others. While we need to rid of self destructive sins and evil in our hearts and life, we also need to rid off all acts of hatred, rage and evil habits so we may “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as Christ, God forgave you.” (4:32)Ridding all acts of evil and malice is the foundation of Christian living and good demonstration of God’s love to the world.

5)   Get rid of everything else: This includes ridding our old nature, all the bad habits, wounds from old time memories, hurts in the past, shame of past failures, pride, evil and unclean thoughts, etc. We need to ask God and his strength to help us get rid all of these and more. Paul encouraged us in Romans 6:4, 6, “We were therefor buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

 

WHEN GOD ALLOWS IT TO STAY: (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

1)   There is a good reason: “To keep me from becoming conceited because of this surpassingly great revelation.” (12:7a) Paul revealed his extra ordinary experience in the third heaven in 12:1-4. This is something surpassingly great. In order to keep him from becoming conceited, something really bad was allowed to happen to him. God works in ways we sometimes don’t understand. Why did he allow Paul to have those great experiences, and then allowed something bad to keep him in tack? We know that conceit and pride have no place in the life of God’s servants. God has a reason to allow it to happen.

2)   God allows suffering: Just as the pain and suffering inflicted on Job was initiated by Satan and permitted by God, (Job 1:9-12; 2:4-7), the pain and suffering inflicted on Paul was also the work of Satan. The Bible clearly states “There was given me a thorn in my fresh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (12:7b)It was a scheme of Satan to torment Paul to counter his extra privilege of the revelation. God allowed this to happen to help keep Paul from being conceited. Here is another way we see how God achieves his goal and purpose in his people.

3)   Pray with all your heart: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away (rid off) from me.” (12:8)When the Bible uses the number three, it mostly refers to many or numerous. Naturally, Paul had prayed many, many time, asking God to remove the thorn from his fresh, a torment he suffered so much. Facing the suffering of the cross, Jesus also prayed to the Father if he could remove the cup. It is our privilege and right to pray to God when facing suffering and pain. This is a privilege Jesus stressed many times in the Gospels and by Paul in his letters. Yes, we can pray.

4)   God has a different plan: “But he said to me: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (12:9a)God did not answer Paul’s prayers but gave him reasons: 1) God has more grace for Paul than the thorn in his fresh to sustain him through the painful experience. 2) Through the weakness of Paul in his suffering, God’s power will be demonstrated to its fullest extend, perfect. In Paul’s suffering, God has the opportunity to demonstrate His supreme power over and under his weakness. It is more than just our suffering and God’s grace. It is also about God’s power and glory the world may see through the process.

5)   Turning weakness into strength: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That’s why, for Christ sake, I rejoice in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:9b-10)This is the best part of being children of God: God can turn our problems, suffering and pain into victorious strength when we trust in His grace and power. “Rest on me” means “wrapping around me” in Greek. It is God’s grace that really protects us from harm and fear. No one may run away from heart-breaking experience in life. But all is able to rest or be wrapped around, be protected by God’s grace and rejoice in all circumstances.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    Rid things need be ridded: So many things in our lives, in the lives of others and in the world at large need to be ridded. God has clear teachings and guidelines in His word, the Bible, for a better life for everyone, particularly for His children. He desires us to be different from the world. Search our hearts and find things that are in conflict with God’s principles. Seek God’s power to get rid of them and be true witnesses of His glory.

2)    Turning victims to victors: When God allows bad things to happen in our lives, he promises us to provide sufficient power and grace so we are more than conquerors to face them. With the power of God, no one needs to be a victim in any situation or facing any problem. God has much more power and grace than whatever problem or suffering you may be facing. Come to him, bring Him all you are facing, and He can and will supply all the strength you need to become a victor, not a victim.

3)    Don’t fight the world alone: No one says life is a smooth sailing. Regardless of who you are and what you have, you will have problems, pain and suffering more than you can handle by yourself. Come to Jesus for help. He promised to share your burdens and give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) When you are facing insurmountable situation, you can use every bit of help you can find and the best help you may find is in Jesus. Bring all your pain and needs to Him, trust in His power and grace, he will turn your life around beyond your imagination.