Jesus, this day is Yours. Have Your way in me.
Read 2 Corinthians 11:16–33
Paul Boasts About His Sufferings
16 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. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 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?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectWhat could Jesus’ words in John 12:24,25 mean for you?
The church at Corinth was conflicted. On the one hand they had impressive visiting speakers asserting their authority boldly; on the other hand there was Paul, supporting himself and seeming rather ordinary. In a world where power and authority were displayed assertively, Paul did not compare very well.
So, with a large dose of irony, Paul plays the same game of boastful confidence (17). This is his humanity speaking, not Christ. Yes, these visiting speakers are indeed more impressive, but look at how they demean the church (20). Paul can match their Jewish credentials (22), but the qualifications that really matter are very different.
For Paul, a true apostle undertook pioneer missionary work at great personal risk. The experiences which show his “weakness” are the cross-shaped marks of a true apostle of Jesus Christ. These include the daily anxiety he carries for all the churches—including the church at Corinth.
It is natural to aspire to significance. We all want our lives to count. As Christians, we want to know that we are of use in God’s kingdom. But the measures of success we use can be seductive and misguided. Success in the eyes of God may not involve human recognition at all.
Think of the ways that you long to be recognized. Write them down and give each one to God in prayer.
O Lord, “I am no longer my own but yours… I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your… disposal” (Methodist Covenant Prayer).