Anyway, the pet peeve I’m addressing today is from 2 Cor 4:7-5:10. Let me say clearly that there is something that this passage can not and does not say: it does not say “we fumble around in the dark, blinded by our faith and trusting the faith blindly.” There’s no way to make this passage – culminating in 2 Cor 5:7 – say that. Paul is not saying that faith usurps our sight, or that faith trumps our sight, in order to make us do irrational things: Paul is saying here that faith improves our sight in order that we may, in fact, walk the right way toward the right goal with the ability to do the right thing.
Think about where this passage begins (as I have cited it): Paul is underscoring that who we are as created beings – that is, as jars of clay – is intended to underscore that all the doing of the Gospel is God’s work and not our work. Isn’t that amazing? So, for example, when we are delivering the Gospel, we don’t have to invent a new tract or an interpretive dance that – if we just work hard enough – will turn men to Christ and His cross, at which time they can make a decision about what to do about that. That doesn’t mean we can be slack and do nothing, but it does mean that the pressure is off of our finite and fallible resources and the real “pressure” (if we can call it such a thing) is on God’s infinite and infallible resources. Amen?
In that, we can suffer through anything for the sake of the Gospel! You know: we can suffer through some mockery for the sake of the Gospel, because the Gospel doesn’t depend on whether or not I maintain my dignity and social standing. We can abide, as another example, being cast out of good company for the sake of the Gospel. We can also accept poverty, disability, and loss for the sake of the Gospel.
I know I have just told you why, but Paul says it clearly: because “we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”
It is in that assurance that we have courage; it is in the fully-fledged knowledge that God’s power is manifested only in our abject weakness and inability that we have courage and strength to be ministers of the Gospel – not just pastors and teachers and preachers, but people who bear Christ’s name rightly down to the last person who can give a cup of water to a thirsty man.
And that courage, says Paul, is this: the Spirit of God is our guarantee that what we do is not in vain. When he says we “walk in faith, not by sight,” he means that we are not stuck with our sorry, fallible eyes to see if we can spot the trail out for ourselves: he is saying that God has prepared us for this work with the guarantee of the Spirit, and we have not traded our eyes for faith, but have been upgraded with eyes than now see all through faith.