What Are You “Not?”

Sometimes who you are is more clearly defined by what you are “not” than your present existance or what people would describe you as being.

During a traumatic time in Paul’s life (author of 2 Corinthians), the most important aspects of his life were what he was not, rather than what he was.  Let’s take a look!  Paul said he was:

  • hard pressed on every side but not crushed (defeated)
  • perplexed and unable to find a way out but not in despair (hopeless)
  • persecuted but not abandoned
  • struck down and hurt but not destroyed (1)

At a time when things were extremely difficult in all areas (every side),  he was clueless as how to solve anyof his difficulties, he was being grossly mistreated by people and even physically harmed, Paul still rises above all this, displaying a rare level of emotional maturity and discipline to which few people ever attain in life,:  he describes himself as what he is not and gains a perspective which brings crucial stability to his life.  Let’s look at it again, paraphrasing the quote more the way we would describe it in modern culture:


  •  Paul is not totally defeated/conquered, though every aspect of his life is unbelievably difficult at the same time
  •  He is not hopeless and has not given up, though he still has no clue how anything will work out
  •  He knows Father God has not abandoned him, even though people have turned against him
  •  He has not been destroyed–he is still alive–even though he has been harmed

Make a choice to attain a new level of stability in your life by being able to focus on “the good that is not.”

Obviously, this is an unusual, crucial strategy for those critically difficult periods/seasons in life.  In normal daily life, one wants to focus on and rejoice in the good that is taking place.  If you are presently facing unbelievable difficulties, or in preparation for when that season of life comes again, make a choice to work now to live at that rare level of self-discipline and emotional maturity which Paul acheived by focusing on what is “good in your life because they are not” when the usual good is no where to be found.  If the good that should be in your life is not taking place right now, identify and build yourself up by realizing there is still good in life because of what has not happened. 

 1.   2 Corinthians 4:8-9

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