Encouragement for Others, Glory for God
We who live under the new covenant of grace are earthen vessels. We have no true spiritual life in ourselves. "You have no life in you" (John 6:53). The treasure who lives within us (Jesus) is our daily source of spiritual life: "Christ who is our life" (Colossians 3:4). Consequently, we must always be dying in order to live. We must be embracing the cross of Christ so that our bankrupt self-life will not be our resource for living. We must look to the Lord as our sufficiency.
The Lord helps us in this process by putting us into impossible situations that necessitate our dependence upon Him. He faithfully responds to our trust and manifests Himself through us. "For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:11). Others observing this receive encouragement to look to the Lord for the life they need. Thus, Paul could write to the Corinthians (who were aware of this process in his life): "So then death is working in us, but life in you."
Every difficulty that God brings into our lives not only has significance for us, but it can also have an impact on those to whom we are ministering. "For all things are for your sakes." How important it is to have a perspective on life that includes God working in us that He might touch others. Paul certainly viewed life and ministry in this manner. "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you…Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all…Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory" (Colossians 1:24; Philippians 2:17; Ephesians 3:13).
As the Lord works His grace into and through our lives, grace can be spreading to many other lives: "that grace, having spread through the many." When God's grace is at work in people's hearts, thanksgiving is so often the beautiful fruit that results. Such thanksgiving brings much glory and honor to God: "may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God."