2021-05-23 – 2 Corinthians 10:1-18 – Commend Not Thyself
2021-05-23 – 2 Corinthians 10:1-18 – Commend Not Thyself
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
I want to start out today by telling you a little story about a Sightseeing Tour.
A tour bus was making the rounds through Washington, D.C. and the driver was pointing out the spots of interest. As they passed the Pentagon building, he mentioned that it cost taxpayers a billion dollars and that it took a year and a half to build. While everyone was looking at it, an elderly woman piped up:
“In Peoria we could have built the same building for much less, and it would have been completed much sooner than that!”
Well the next sight on the tour was the Justice Department building. Once again the bus driver said that it cost ten million to build in 1935 and took almost two years to complete. The woman repeated: “In Peoria we would have done it for far less money, and it would have been finished much sooner.”
The tour finally came to the Washington Monument, and the driver just passed slowly by without saying a word.
The woman was curious. “Hey,” she shouted to the driver, “what’s that tall white building back there?”
The driver looked out the window, waited a minute and then said, “Search me, lady. It wasn’t there yesterday.”
Today’s message topic is about Bragging or Boasting. It is something I think we all could be reminded about, especially as it relates to our Christian walk.
In this letter-book of 2nd Corinthians, there are really three distinct parts. The first section, chapters 1 to 7 focused on the restored relationship between Paul and the Corinth church. The tone was gracious and somewhat gentle. Then in the second section of the letter, chapters 8 and 9, Paul wrote about finances, and he urges the Corinth believers to give to the poor Christians that were struggling back in Jerusalem. Paul calls them (and us) to obedience in our giving as it is a true measure and expression of our Christian love and unity. Then comes the final section, starting today at chapter 10, where Paul attempts to deal sternly with some remaining hostility to the truth back in the church in Corinth. Paul moves from the calm and tender pleadings of chapters 1 through 9, to strong, stern and authoritative words now in this final section. So with that background.
Please turn now to 2 Corinthians 10:1, page 1028 in your pew Bibles, which we call God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word. Prayer..
Last week, as we went through chapter 9, Paul was conveying that the Macedonia churches that he was visiting were extremely grateful to God, to the point of even pleading with Paul for them to be able to contribute financially to the cause. Paul was excited to see them excited, and he wanted to extend that enthusiasm with the Corinth believers, and with us as well. For God is truly glorified when His people are most excited in Him. In this next chapter 10 we are going to see Paul shift a little in his writings. Paul is going to remind them again that he is trying to be sincere but yet bold in his communications with the Corinth believers for their benefit and for God’s glory. Starting at verse 1, Paul writes:
1 Now I, Paul, myself, appeal to you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I, who am humble among you in person but bold toward you when absent. 2 I beg you that when I am present I will not need to be bold with the confidence by which I plan to challenge certain people who think we are living according to the flesh. 3 For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, [SLIDE] 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments 5 and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. 6 And we are ready to punish any disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
The Apostle Paul was the very first Christian missionary to go to Corinth and that part of our world, to tell them of the Good News of Jesus Christ. He had the privilege of starting that church and then installed Elders there to take care of the flock. Then Paul continued in his missionary journeys and he wrote this letter back to them from Macedonia. And while he was away, some wolves came in and started causing trouble in the church. They started attacking Paul’s character and the gospel message he delivered. In one of Paul’s last letters to the church in Corinth, he addressed directly the issues of controversy, and thankfully he was able to correct them and get them back on the right track again. In this chapter we see Paul re-addressing some of those dynamics. Paul says right off that he appeals to them with meekness and gentleness of Christ. That is certainly a Christian character that we all should try to master.
Jesus, who was literally God in the flesh, controlled His anger and His emotions better than anyone else. He had all the right to wipe them all off the face of the Earth, but instead, as displayed so well on the cross, as people were ridiculing Him and persecuting Him, said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”. Jesus was always in control. He was strong but gentle, loving and compassionate at the same time.
So how do we tap into the meekness and gentleness of Christ, especially when we are attacked? Well, as Jesus demonstrated, and Paul says here in these words, “we do not wage war according to the flesh”. Instead we fight with the instruments of God, by” Speaking the truth. Giving it to God in prayer, by putting our faith and trust in the Lord, and by bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I am not suggesting that we should never raise our fists or take a physical stance, but those types of responses should be well governed and they should be rare. The most powerful piece of weaponry we have in our “Christian Soldier” arsenal is Prayer. And we need to be doing that more and more as we mature in our faith. Put on the full armor of God brothers and sisters and let us use it in faith. God’s weaponry is so much more effective than ours. And as our physical weapons are generally designed to tear down and destroy, God’s weaponry can change eternal lives and restore even generations of peoples. As Christ followers, we have an eternal advantage and we need to start living in such a way that it looks different than what the world has to offer. Let us continue now at verse 7. Paul writes:
7 Look at what is obvious. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, let him remind himself of this: Just as he belongs to Christ, so do we. 8 For if I boast a little too much about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be put to shame. [SLIDE]
9 I don’t want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters. 10 For it is said, “His letters are weighty and powerful, but his physical presence is weak and his public speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Let such a person consider this: What we are in our letters, when we are absent, we will also be in our actions when we are present.
Paul wrote some powerful letters, of which we now have some in our Bibles. All of which I would argue was through the inspiration of the Lord, for the teaching, correction and building up of the new churches that God appointed him to start. Paul was an Evangelist, an apostle, a teacher and a missionary bar none. However, Paul was not known for being a great preacher or pastor for that matter. He says it himself in several of his letters, for example: [SLIDE]
1 Corinthians 1:17 – “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with words of wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power”.
1 Corinthians 2:1 – “When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom”.
1 Corinthians 2:4 – “My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power”.
Paul may not have spoken with eloquence, but Paul spoke God’s Truth as was given to him by the Holy Spirit. Brothers and Sisters, I hope you would agree with me that we can trust in what is written in our Bibles, amen?
And for that I am eternally grateful. Paul continues at verse twelve:
12 For we don’t dare classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding. 13 We however, will not boast beyond measure but according to the measure of the area of ministry that God has assigned to us, which reaches even to you. [SLIDE]
14 For we are, not overextending ourselves, as if we had not reached you, since we have come to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We are not boasting beyond measure about other people’s labors. On the contrary, we have the hope that as your faith increases, our area of ministry will be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel to the regions beyond you without boasting about what has already been done in someone else’s area of ministry. [SLIDE]
17 So let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. 18 For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends.
That phrase “boast in the Lord” is also found in 1 Corinthians 1:31, where Paul, quoting Jeremiah 9:24, says, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Some may think it strange to think of any kind of boasting as being good; after all, the word boast means “to puff oneself up in speech”.
And pride is certainly condemned in Scripture. But Paul, in this text is obviously not talking about sinful boasting in oneself. Paul’s statement here has nothing to do with his own abilities. [SLIDE] In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1:26-30 Paul also wrote, “not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”.
So likewise, whatever good may come from even our ministry here in this church, we have no reason to boast in ourselves either. Because humanly speaking, we can do nothing apart from God. Therefore, all the glory goes to God.
In Him, and Him alone, amen?
Any boasting we offer, should be about boasting of the Lord—boasting of His great attributes, boasting of what He has done for us, of what He is still doing and of what He has promised to do. I love what it says in Jeremiah 9:23-24 ,
“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight,’ declares the LORD.” Isn’t that an awesome verse?
The apostle Paul knew very well that he owed everything to Jesus Christ. The day he met Jesus on the road toward Damascus, Paul had no idea what he was in for. Paul was going about persecuting Christians even. Then Jesus got ahold of him as recorded in Acts 9, and that changed both the direction and trajectory of Paul’s life for the good. And that same story could be told by probably most all of us here today. When Jesus gets a hold of a person, He changes them from the inside out. It may not happen overnight, but if you are truly a Christian, you can’t help but to be changed. Our bibles say that God then gives us a new heart. Jesus calls us “Born again” and a “New Creation”. And every positive thing that emanates from that point forward must be credited to the Lord.
Therefore, as Paul infers in our verses today, we have no reason to boast about our own accomplishments, but we should have much to boast about in God’s accomplishments.
So, what is the take-away for us today in these passages?
1) Recognize that in ministry, just like any other acumen, there will always be some naysayers. There will always be people who complain and try to take the joy out of life and living. When that happens, don’t get dismayed. As it happened to Paul we should also expect it. Don’t let it get you down. God is on your side.
2) Look to Jesus Christ and recognize again how He saved you. Therefore He truly does deserve all the credit and accolades. Try to think about all the good things He has done in your life, and recognize again that because of Jesus, we are going to Heaven. We have a bright future because He chose us and He loves us so.
Finally, Boast in the Lord dear Christian. Give all the credit where the credit is due. Praise be to our Father God in heaven for His most Amazing grace and mercy. Amen?
Would you please stand now and let us close with prayer.
God be with you all.