I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?
If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying. When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.2 Corinthians 11:22-33
How often do you boast of your weaknesses? I don’t imagine it is very much, if at all. It is not a normal human thing to do. And certainly not in this age when people like to appear self-sufficient. Yet Paul uses his weaknesses as the badge of his apostleship. When he wants to prove his apostleship he cites not his accomplishments, or the successes but the struggles, the imprisonment, the whippings, times he has faced death, been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked or a host of other troubles. I find that hugely interesting. In this day and age, the so-called modern apostles claim their successes. In fact THEIR badge or proof of being servants of Christ (or so they claim) is that they have no problems. People who walk with Jesus shouldn’t have problems, should they? From Paul’s point of view, the struggles he had are proof that he is an apostle of Christ. What a contrast. How unexpected! I’ll go with Paul’s assessment rather than false apostles, super apostles or any modern day “apostle”.
Another different spin on the standard story is that Paul also cites his inner burdens for the church (read people) as proof of his apostleship. “I have a daily burden for all the churches. When God’s people feel weak I feel that weakness.” Imagine that; it is not just Paul’s troubles that burden him and express his weakness. It is the weaknesses of other disciples too which he felt. How many modern apostles feel that? If we go by Paul’s criteria there would not be many classified as apostles these days.
If one is led astray I burn with anger? True? Anger against whom? Them, because they were led astray? Because they fell from grace? No, anger against Satan and his demonic forces. Paul directed his anger in the right direction. Paul boasted about these things. A vastly different basis of boasting than that of the false prophets who were focused on the comparison game and who was the best speaker and who had the most power etc. Mmm, time to revise the criteria for apostleship I think. Don’t be sucked into the game (the trap) of everything having to be rosy and no problems as proof of the fact that you are a successful Christian. You are in a battle. Soldiers in war experience wounds, there are battles that are lost and battles that are won. You may lose a battle or two, as long as you win the war.
Never give the devil a ride; he always wants to drive.Anon
Nothing else ruins the truth like stretching it.Anon
He who angers you controls you.Anon