Today we continue with Paul’s defence against the so called “Super” or perhaps not-so-super Apostles. As Mark mentioned yesterday, these were false apostles who added their own teachings to those of Christ and had been busy taking advantage of the Corinthians.
For context, let’s look back in yesterday’s reading:
I do not think I am in the least inferior to those ‘super-apostles’. I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.
2 Corinthians 11:5-6
In response to the “super apostles” bragging, Paul responds by saying “two can play that game”:
I repeat: let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting.
Paul highlights through his somewhat apologetic boasting that he has the true credentials of a servant of Christ – as well as how he sacrificed so much of himself for the Corinthians for the sake of their salvation. He must have been greatly pained to have his spiritual children in the Corinthian church turn away from the gospel so easily. What a burden he carried for his infant churches:
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
In the end, Paul reminds them of what is worth boasting about:
If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.
Paul is only half way there with his boasting as we head into chapter 12. But his boasting is only to win his spiritual children back. He doesn’t highlight his strength, but Christ’s strength. He doesn’t highlight his own ability, but Christ’s ability to overcome our weakness.
Rather than finishing mid-thought, let’s preview tomorrow’s FDR:
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of boasting about ourselves in our self sufficient and affluent culture. May we remember as we approach Christmas that it is not all about us. May our hearts inwardly burn as Paul’s did for those that need Jesus this Christmas.