Years ago, I took our youngest son to buy his first real baseball glove. While looking, we came across a man’s wallet, thick with bills, on top of an athletic shoe bin. We looked around, and I held it up and loudly asked, “Did anyone lose this?” There were few people in the store, and no one responded. We walked to the counter and gave the wallet to the cashier, asking him to hold it until someone came to claim it. Leaving, my son asked, “Was that hard to do?” I said, “Yes, but no.” As Paul ministered to those in Corinth, competing with the naysayers and sophists, I can imagine him saying almost the same thing.
- How does living the gospel change how you do things?
READ THE WORD: 2 CORINTHIANS 11:1-15 (ESV)
11:1 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! 12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 7-15.)
- Why did Paul not accept or ask for support from the Corinthians (vs. 9)? (Keep in mind that Paul used irony to make his point in verses 7-8. While ministering in Corinth, he had supported himself initially through his own work.)
- How were the Macedonians mirroring Paul’s ministry among the Corinthians?
- How did Paul’s boasting differ from that of those who were trying to undermine his ministry (vss. 10-12)?
- Why wasn’t Paul worried about those false apostles and deceivers (vss. 13-15)?
- How does the message of the gospel lift us up? How does your belief in the gospel allow you to live, work, serve, and love differently than those around you, who do not believe?
RESPOND TO GOD
Paul’s message and ministry had come under attack, so he reminded the Corinthians of his great love for them and how God had met his needs through believers from Macedonia, who “became examples to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1 Thess. 1:7). Paul didn’t need to defend himself against false apostles, whose end was sure. Instead, he continued to minister and preach the gospel, so that the Corinthians might be built up in their faith and not led astray.
- Ask God to help you respond to today’s circumstances in light of how the gospel has changed your heart.