CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
Boast in God not Yourself
2 Corinthians 10.10-18
Jerry A Collins
v Does God get adequate praise in our lives?
v How do we manage situations where our reputation is stake?
v Do we have a tendency to honor ourselves?
Lurking beneath the surface is the desire to have recognition and to be noticed and appreciated. I am not saying that is to be censored. It is a legitimate desire and God has built us so that we are motivated by our personal profit. But like all desires this one is also perverted. It can cause us to become jealous, envious, defensive, discouraged, anxious, and fearful. The reason is because we find ourselves wanting recognition and appreciation so badly, that we will sinfully pursue these. We will take advantage of others, ridicule, cheat, withhold, dishonor, lie, vindictive, selfish, and angry so long as we get the notice we crave.
Now the apostle Paul is up against some scoundrels who are doing just that. Who these opponents were we can only tentatively address. They are probably Jewish in nature 11:22; assumed the stance of apostle 11:13-15; and brot letters of recommendation from somewhere 3:1. They claimed to bear a message of righteousness 11:14; but ultimately sought monetary gains from the Corinthians 2:17. The Corinthians contributed to the presence of these huskers because they were superficial and shallow in evaluation 10:7; and oriented to things external and worldly wisdom 1 Cor 3:1ff. As a result, the Corinthians were fair game and set up for these deceivers in their lives. We can string together at least three motives that provoke us to seek our own glory instead of God. Here are three perspectives that contribute to our interests in promoting our own glory.
WE COMPARE OURSELVES TO OTHERS WHO MAKE US LOOK GOOD 12
There is a hint of sarcasm here when he states that he is not ‘bold to class or compare ourselves with some of these who commend themselves’. These opponents are engaging in this game—one the apostle seems to ridicule. The reason is because when you compare yourself to another person, as they were, the result is a foregone conclusion. You find yourself well qualified, acceptable, and noteworthy. They use a standard that makes them look good. It is not a true and authentic standard but it does not have to be. So Paul’s conclusion is that ‘they are without understanding’. When comparing yourself to another person you use an inadequate standard of measurement. It is skewed in your favor. We are to compare ourselves to Jesus Christ. He will be the judge and He sets the standards. So any other standard of measurement I use to determine my adequacy or my righteousness, or my obedience, means I lack understanding about God’s expectations. And that means I am ill prepared for my evaluation by Christ. If you develop the standard of spiritual measurement that Christ provides, you can count on the fact that you are positioning yourself to bring glory to God.
Have you ever noticed that when we compare ourselves to other people it is often to those who do not excel us? That way, of course, we always look better, and can have more pride in ourselves. Pride is the very enemy of spiritual growth. If you think you are good, you cannot confess sin and grow. It is why people do not receive Christ as their Savior—they think they are already good and do not need one. This is some of what these false apostles were doing—comparing themselves to Paul who se personal appearance was unimpressive and his speech contemptible 10:10. As long as they could maintain this distinction, they looked good at the Apostle Paul’s expense.
WE ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY THAT BELONGS TO OTHERS 13-14
First of all, Paul’s ministry was not his idea. He was called by God to go to the Gentiles. So he can properly boast within that sphere which God portioned out for him. He can do so because it was not his, it was God who sent him and gave him the authority to go to the Gentiles—to even reach with that ministry as far as the Corinthians. They were the authentication of this ministry from God to him. These false ones were beyond proper limits in their claims upon the Corinthians. Paul himself had planted here 1 Cor 3:6 and God saw to it that it had borne fruit.
Second, vs 14, Paul was the first missionary to arrive in Corinth. He staked out his claim to them well before anyone else had arrived. Sent by the apostles in Jerusalem, these false apostles were invading Paul’s territory, muscling their way in, and doing so with a false way, a false message, false claims, and a false gospel. The two key ideas are ‘beyond measure’ and ‘overextending’ means they have gone beyond acceptable limits. They are assuming responsibility that was not theirs to advance an agenda that was theirs.
This kind of take-over gives a platform to the one who wants to advance his agenda. Without any Power base of their own they find one to absorb so they can wield their influence through it and by means of it for their own purposes. The platform and power base give them credibility they might not otherwise have and assists in the deception. Understand that spiritual gifts are not given to the church so that others can avoid their obligations. Those with the gift of giving are not placed in the church so they can give and the rest of us can take (or at least avoid giving ourselves) but to help us learn to become givers; those gifted to teach must not only teach us to learn, but teach us to teach better; those gifted to lead should not take over, expecting us only to follow but lead in a way which helps us be better leaders, in our homes, in our jobs, and in our church. It is not about assuming other’s responsibility to advance my agenda but to serve you to fulfill your ministry.
WE EXAGGERATE OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS 15-18
15 There would be no boasting from Paul in areas in which others had labored. But because he was the first on the scene in Corinth, with the gospel, he had the rite to defend his ministry among them. So it seems those with a vested interest in themselves can place you on the defensive. The hope is that as these Corinthians grow up and mature spiritually they could become the platform from which further ministry could be generated and serve as a platform possibly all the way to Spain vs 16 giving opportunity to bring the gospel to places it has not been before. This maturity would bring discernment and understanding so boasting about who did what and where would no longer be important.
17 The corrective to self-promotion is boasting in the Lord! Everything you have spiritually is directly and only from God. It is not the result of any human. Why, then, this tendency to be enamored of men, to decide who has the best credentials, when in fact it is only God’s grace that we have and achieve anything. Self- commendation and the praise of men count for nothing ‘For it is not he who commends himself that is approved’ vs 18. Of all flattery, self- flattery is the worst. It is self-deceit--‘But he whom the Lord commends’. You and I will stand before the Bema seat of Christ for judgment. So make your goal to please Him. You do not need to compare, assume take-over, and exaggerate your accomplishments. Let God advance you while you serve the advance the Kingdom.
1. Live for an audience of One. It will help diminish your desire for self-promotion.
2. Let God exalt you. You just continue serving not seeking.
3. God is interested in your profit and will ensure you get what is your