But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14
I think it’s the most important “but” in the Bible. No, I’m not talking about anyone’s posterior; I’m talking about the conjunction. Paul has just confessed his anxiety that led to a blown opportunity for the gospel and forced him to leave town because he had no peace of mind.
“But …” he says, “thanks be to God!” Why is that? What turned this around so fast? Did he get news of Titus? Did he thank God when he finally found him and relieved his anxiety? No. So what turned a failure so quickly into a victory celebration? Here is precisely why Paul chose to reveal his story this way. He wanted to show us that his thanks to God had nothing to do with resolving the situation; the thanks had to do with the fact that whatever happens, including our mistakes and human limitations, God is still leading us in a victory celebration and still using us to get His work done in the world.
So imagine Paul walking down the road towards Macedonia, what is he doing? Is he brooding over his mistake? Is he knocked out of the race now? Is God unable to use him because of his anxious heart? No. Because he is always being led along in Christ’s triumphal procession. “Captives,” he calls us. There’s nothing we can do about it. We can’t mess it up. We are captives to victory!
How is this possible when we know we are so weak and fall so short? It could only be one thing. You guessed it; it’s the theme of this whole study. It’s the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in us and He is the knowledge of Christ that gives off a sweet perfume. Are we doing anything about that? Are we applying this perfume before we go out? No. He’s already there, and He goes wherever we go, and because of that, we make an impact whether we are aware of it or not. (Mostly we are not.) But more about that tomorrow. It is important today to know we are captives to victory.
Our effectiveness is because we have the Holy Spirit in us. Success, failure, anxiety, indecision, all don’t matter — the Holy Spirit goes with us and that’s what makes the difference.
And what happened to that open door back in Troas? Someone else went through it. We are, none of us, indispensable. If you disqualify yourself, He’ll find someone else, and in the meantime, He’ll keep working with you, and even use you anyway. There are no detours; there is just the road you’re on, and God is using everything.
The 21 Day Challenge
— Day Two —
But Thanks be to God!
2 Corinthians, Chapter 2:14
The next verse is astounding:
- But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.
Paul proclaims a grateful thanksgiving for a powerful ministry that stands not less than a verse away from his sense of failure, weakness, his frustration and his despair. In one hand he is he is expressing his great frustration and anxiousness and in the other he is thanking God for an outstanding ministry.
For Your Further Information
- How can he reverse his position so quickly? Nothing is going well for Paul and yet at the same time he is throwing a New York ticker tape parade as if the war had been won?
- How can one rejoice in the admits of everything going wrong?
- Tell us a time when your intention was to serve and something occurred that redirected you, and yet, you were aware or became aware that the Holy Spirit was working through you anyway.
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