BOASTING IN THE LORD
Holy Spirit, I bow before you today. Generate in my weary soul a sense of expectancy, an assurance of you being with me.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 10:7-18
7 You are judging by appearances.[a] If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8 So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[b] 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘…but let those who boast boast about this: that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness.’1
We should always remember that every story has two sides. In regard to all that was happening in Corinth we only have one side – Paul’s. We entertain the possibility that Paul may have been a tad unfair. This said, we incline toward giving him the benefit of the doubt, not least because he was clearly the target of serious misrepresentation.
We learn more here about the accusation that in person Paul was unimpressive and ineffectual (v 10). He also stands accused of using threatening language (v 9). Perhaps it is even being claimed that he is not a proper Christian (v 7) and that he is sinfully boastful. He does indeed own up to a certain kind of boasting, but it is boasting in the Lord (v 17) of what God has achieved through him, not least in reaching Corinth with the gospel (v 14). In making it clear that he had a commission from the risen Lord and the authority that went with it (v 8), Paul could easily be accused of a form of self-aggrandizement – but he was also stating a fact. Paul is clear about his limits. He was not going to take the credit for what others had achieved (unlike his opponents) and was looking forward to boasting about new regions opening up beyond Corinth (vs 15,16). Good boasting!
Sadly, here in the early origins of the Christian church we find evidence of a competitive and factional spirit. We would like to report that this was swiftly and decisively overcome, but even the powerful words of Paul’s hymn to love previously addressed to Corinth2 could not avert it. For all that we go on reading Paul’s letters, this factional spirit continues to this day. The remedy will not be found until the time comes when each of us resolves never to be part of it.
‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.’3
Lord, I seek to lift you up. May my words tell of your goodness and not my own. Your glory is above all else.
1 Jer 9:24, TNIV 2 1 Cor 13 3 Phil 2:3
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