Lord, grant me the longsuffering of God himself.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 11:1–15
11 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”[a] 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
a 2 Corinthians 11:5 Or to the most eminent apostles
New International Version (NIV)
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“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
We talk very nonchalantly about “love.” The word trips off the tongue, but what we say often fails to live up to its reality. Some protestations of love are only so much hot air. Worse still, people talk about love but end up manipulating and exploiting others. People cry out for genuine love, but often they are disappointed.
Paul is different. He loves the Corinthians deeply and expresses this love with some of his most passionate writing (e.g., 11), but he doesn’t only write about love—he demonstrates it practically. The specific example mentioned in our verses is his refusal to accept money from the Corinthians when he was with them, although he had every right to ask for financial assistance (7–11). He refuses to be a “burden” to them (9,10). This sacrificial act is the hallmark of his love, proving its authenticity. Here is real love that makes a difference, patterned on the sacrificial, self-giving, and transformative love Christ has for us.
Christians talk a lot about love. This is quite appropriate, for we have a God who is love in his very nature, and he calls us to love others, even those who are our “enemies” (Matt. 5:44; 1 John 4:7,8; 1 Pet. 1:22). We know this, but do we show it? Our call is to be people of word and deed, loving as Jesus loved. As we do this, we should expect to be misunderstood, just as Paul was (7,8). This happens especially when the people we are called to serve get wounded and broken, for when we touch people’s wounds they sometimes feel pain and lash out. However, we are called to persevere in love. How will we reflect Christ’s love to others today?
Think of the people God has given you to love, especially those you find difficult. How can you practically express your love for them?
Lord, we are aware of Your jealous nature toward us, that You want no competition for our affections. Enhance our ability to refuse each and every alternative to You.
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