Thursday, June 6, 2019

2019.06.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle think of boasting (2 Corinthians 11:16)? What action on the apostle’s part is not part of “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:17)? According to what do many boast (2 Corinthians 11:18)? And who has been putting up with them (2 Corinthians 11:19)? But into what are those boasters bringing the Corinthians who listen to them (2 Corinthians 11:20)? What are they bold to do the Corinthians? Who hadn’t been bold enough in the past (2 Corinthians 11:21a)? How will he be now (verse 21b)? What credentials does the apostle present in 2 Corinthians 11:22? What counter-intuitive credentials in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27? What is a trial to him on top of all of these (2 Corinthians 11:28)? What happens in the churches that bothers him so much (2 Corinthians 11:29)? What does the apostle boast about (2 Corinthians 11:30)? Whom does he call as a witness in 2 Corinthians 11:31? What additional detail do we learn about the escape from Damascus in 2 Corinthians 11:32? How had Paul escaped (2 Corinthians 11:33)?
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then boasting is the epitome of folly. You’d have to be a Nimrod to think highly of yourself before the face of Yahweh.

But the Corinthians had been visited by Nimrods-a-plenty, and they had liked it. They were eating up the teaching of the visiting “super-apostles” that were bringing them into the bondage of indulging in sin (cf. Romans 6:16). These fancy preachers were very costly to keep around, arrogant about themselves, abusive to the Corinthians—and such is the way of the proud. Who would want to be like them?

Well… the Corinthians, apparently. You can see a mirror-opposite to their “your best life now” message in Paul’s “boasting.” Yes, he has been given many providential privileges (cf. the list in 2 Corinthians 11:22). But, the story of his true apostleship has been mostly “your best life later” and “how to make enemies and irritate people (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Yet, rather than treat others badly, he valued them so much that their spiritual condition was a bigger concern to the apostle than all of his own genuinely pressing earthly concerns.

The success story of a believer is not so much that he lives a valiant life, but rather that he rests in, and is devoted to, a valiant Lord. It’s more hiding in baskets than sticking it to bureaucrats. Because the best glory is to know and show Christ Himself as glorious in even the most unimpressive people and difficult situations.

Are you unimpressive, and finding yourself often in difficulty? Congratulations! You are ripe for resting in Christ, being conformed to His own suffering life on earth, and being consumed with His glory to boast about in the midst of your weakness.
Of what are you tempted to be proud? What weakness or trouble has the Lord brought into your life, that you might find Christ glorious instead?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

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