March 15, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — 2 Corinthians 4:5-6
For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 4-5, the Apostle Paul puts the spotlight on our mortality. But he begins by focusing, not on our frailty, nor on the darkness in our world, but rather on the light of God shining within us. In the season of Lent, as we acknowledge the darkness, we also remember the light of God and ask God to brighten our hearts with love, grace, and truth.
This devotion is part of the series: Treasure in Clay Jars.
Yesterday we began a Life for Leaders devotional series called “Treasure in Clay Jars.” In this series, we will examine chapters 4 and 5 of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. As we do, we’ll see more clearly who we are as “clay jars” in which God’s own glory dwells.
In the opening verses of 2 Corinthians 4, the Apostle Paul distinguishes himself from other philosophers and even Christian missionaries who “practice cunning” or “falsify God’s word” (4:2). Unlike them, Paul engages in ministry “by the open statement of the truth” (4:2). He isn’t hiding anything or trying to deceive people.
Moreover, distinguishing himself from religious or philosophical charlatans, Paul says “we do not proclaim ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:5). He is not the focus of his message. Nor is he the beneficiary of his preaching. He is not seeking wealth, power, or fame. Rather, he proclaims “Jesus Christ as Lord” and offers himself in service to those to whom he preaches.
What Paul has to offer to others is amazing, but it’s not something he has created or that he owns: “For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). God has shone divine light into Paul’s heart, the light that illuminates who Jesus Christ really is, namely, the unique manifestation of God’s glory.
What God did for the Apostle Paul God also does for us. God shines in our hearts, revealing to us who Jesus is and what he has done for us. God helps us to see clearly the truth of the gospel. God reveals the grace that saves us.
God does this for our benefit, to be sure, but also for the benefit of others. Remember what Jesus said about light in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). The light we can shine before others is given to us by God. For this reason, when people see our good works, they give glory, not to us, but to our Father in heaven.
As we continue in our study of 2 Corinthians 4-5, we’ll soon encounter the reality of our mortality. This is something we must take seriously, to be sure. But Paul begins by focusing, not on our frailty, nor on the darkness in our world, but rather on the light of God shining within us. In the season of Lent, as we acknowledge the darkness, we also remember the light of God and ask God to brighten our hearts with love, grace, and truth.
In what ways have you experienced God’s light shining in you?
When you read about “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” what does this spark in you? What do you think? What do you feel? What pictures come to mind?
Take time to thank God for a time (or times) when you sensed God’s presence and light in a powerful way.
Gracious God, thank you for shining your light within me. Thank you for helping me to see your glory in the face of Jesus. Thank you for enabling me to believe the good news of your love and grace in Christ.
Today I ask you to shine in me even more brightly. As you do, help me, dear Lord, to shine with your light. May my life reflect your presence. May my actions point to you and your glory. May others see you shining in me, not for my glory, but for your glory and their good. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Print on the Clay.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.