BREAKING THE SILENCE
I give myself to You today. Speak to me, Lord.
Read 2 Corinthians 12
Paul’s Vision and His Thorn
12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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. 10 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.
Paul’s Concern for the Corinthians
11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,”[a] even though I am nothing. 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!
14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
a 2 Corinthians 12:11 Or the most eminent apostles
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
ReflectWhat matters most—that people think well of you, or that God’s power is evident in you and others are built up?
Although generally outspoken, the Corinthians have been uncomfortably silent on Paul’s behalf (11; 5:12). All they had to do was to say that they themselves were his endorsement of his apostleship (1 Cor. 9:2), but maybe they were embarrassed by their cheap (11:7–11) and tongue-tied (10:1; 11:6) founder compared with their imposing “super-apostle” visitors.
Paul has no option but to speak on his own behalf (1). If supernatural revelations are taken to be the mark of a “spiritual” person, he can provide the evidence (1–7). But he knows such “boasting” is misguided. What matters is God’s power at work, and this is more evident in weakness (7b–10).
There has also been an awkward silence around money. Paul has not accepted financial support from the Corinthians and yet he has requested far larger sums for the Jerusalem church. Does he intend to pocket the collection (16)? Because of their preoccupation with status and power, the Corinthians expect spiritual leaders to demand payment, respect and honor. For Paul, the reverse is true. As their “father” he spends himself for their benefit (14,15). His fear is that, when he returns, he will be embarrassed by their lifestyle (20,21).
Are you holding onto something that you have not articulated? God knows it already. Why not speak it out to him? Give those things to Jesus today.
Lord, I often hold onto things that I view as my own. Today, I want to lay them down before You to use as You see fit.