That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. You have made me act like a fool—boasting like this. You ought to be writing commendations for me, for I am not at all inferior to these “super apostles,” even though I am nothing at all. When I was with you, I certainly gave you proof that I am an apostle. For I patiently did many signs and wonders and miracles among you. The only thing I failed to do, which I do in the other churches, was to become a financial burden to you. Please forgive me for this wrong!2 Corinthians 12:10-13
Did you take the time to look back and think about the themes and recurring topics in the Corinthian letters? The best way to gain an understanding of a Biblical book is to summarise it yourself. For that reason I am not going to list the hot topics of Corinthians now. I suspect most of you haven’t had time to look back over the Corinthian letters yet. So I will give you time to do that. You learn most when you do the work and are not simply given the answer on a plate. But I can tell you there are a number of them listed in the verses before us today. That gives you some pointers. I will pick up the themes when we get the end of Corinthians in the next few days. That will give you some more time to do the exercise for yourself.
You can see now from this comment of Paul’s why he frequently refers to his struggles and weaknesses. Weakness is one of the “theme” words of the Corinthian letters. If Paul would boast about anything it will be his weaknesses. He has realized the strength of God is poured into weak vessels when that weakness is confessed. It is interesting in this current section that Paul refers again to the fact that the Corinthians themselves know him well enough to actually write a letter of recommendation for him. I.e. They would be one of the churches he would ask for a reference because they have seen enough of his ministry to know exactly who he is and what he stands for. Yet they have been deceived by the “super apostles” to reject the very things they know to be true in favour of the spin the “super apostles” have put on it. They have seen enough of the miracles Paul did to know for sure that his power comes from God. That he is a true apostle. He comment way back in 1 Corinthians 4:20 about the kingdom of God being a matter or power and not mere words seems to infer these “super apostles” were all talk and no evidence of God’s power at all. Yet the Corinthians were still sucked in by them.
Paul says again the one (and only) area he let them down in was not allowing them to give him money, no doubt because of the allegations made against him by the false apostles. What is interesting is that the allegations that are made against Paul by the false teachers appear to be things that they themselves were doing . Isn’t that true! So often the things people accuse us of or we accuse others of are the very things we struggle with ourselves (or they themselves). We are more prone to recognise particular sins in others which we struggle with ourselves. Mmm a case of beams in our eyes obscuring specks in other’s eyes maybe. It is rather ironic that the very thing Paul asks their forgiveness for would be something that would make us think, “how is that wrong?” Because there is a deep truth hidden here. That is the very reason the supporter I told you about in Bible Gem 386, told me “Ian Vail, don’t you rob me of the blessing of giving to God’s work.” She knew the truth of the way in which God works. When we do certain things because we fear others reactions or fear people misinterpreting our motives we mess up the purposes of God. Paul realises here he was wrong in bowing to the pressure of comments from the “super apostles” and not involving the Corinthians in the blessings of giving.
It will surprise you how many references Paul makes through the Corinthian letters to issues like this. You can see the tensions behind the scenes when you read between the lines. There are many little side comments which help us to see what was going on. Enough for now.
Tithing is not law, we’re under grace. But under grace we should be more generous. God doesn’t need our tips.Derek Prince
What power the gift gives us to see ourselves as others see us.Robert Burns
It’s amazing how we accuse in others, what we excuse in ourselves.Ian Vail
More foolishness: A hair in the head is worth two in the brush. Rick Warren said it, I know it.Ian Vail