MARKS OF A TRUE MINISTER
Wednesday, 24 July 2019
2 Corinthians 11 : 16-33
“If I have to boast, I boast of what pertains to my weakness.” -2 Cor.11:30
Our reading today is Apostle Paul giving a defense of his apostolic calling and ministry. The chapter begins with a note on false apostles, who were trying to present “another Jesus” and a “different gospel” (2Cor.11:4). These false teachers were slandering Paul and were taking pride in their religious heritage and were concerned only about personal gains for them.
As Paul countered the accusations of his opponents, he took great pains to present his apostolic credentials. He opened his life and ministry for all to review. But he was doing more than defending himself; he wrote with an additional goal- to warn the Corinthians of the dangers the false teachings posed. Thus Paul reluctantly painted a stark contrast between his own ministry and that of his rivals. [NKJV Study Bible]
We can understand from 2 Cor.11:7-9 that these false teachers even collected a fee for their services! Even today we can encounter such false apostles who would speak with passion and eloquence, but their motives are dubious. Such infiltrators can influence people and cause factions and divisions in the Church, which ultimately may destroy a church. Understanding the gravity of the matter, Paul took great pains to present his apostolic credentials.
Paul is not boasting for the sake of getting anybody’s attention or with any wrong motives, on the contrary, he says the cause of his boasting is his weakness!! This weakness is further explained in 2Cor.12:7, and there was a purpose for that – not to exalt himself above measure by the abundance of revelations (as explained in 12:1-6). Let us look at what Paul is trying to convey when he says that he will be “boasting in his weakness.” Bible scholars have commented about this weakness (thorn in the flesh) as a physical infirmity.
After stating his credentials as a Hebrew, Israelite and descendant of Abraham, Paul shifts his focus on to the mark of his Apostleship! More than his identity as a Hebrew, he wanted to be known as a servant of Christ! In the ensuing narrative of his qualification to be called a servant of Christ, Paul enlists the difficulties he faced in standing for the truth that was revealed to him. The physical pain as well as the mental trauma that he had gone through, and his perseverance in the middle of all these, shows how genuine he was in pursuing his call as an apostle (Acts 9:6 & Acts 9:16). Subsequently Paul speaks of the revelations God gave to him about heaven! (2Cor.12:1-5). Paul also speaks about the encounters he had with Jesus.
Those are the marks of a true minister of God or an Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Encounter with Jesus
Perseverance even during severe persecutions and opposition
Revelatory knowledge of the things of God.
The torment by the agent of satan constantly reminds Paul that he is a mere human being. Therefore, he says in 2Cor.12:9 he would most gladly boast in his weakness because the Lord spoke to him that “My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is perfected in weakness.” In verse 10 Paul says: “Therefore I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Let us not boast vainly and glory in the flesh but rather rejoice in the fact that God’s power is manifested through our weaknesses. This will only come to us when we sincerely pursue our divine calling with undeterred focus on Christ.
To Act on:
“…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
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