2 Corinthians 11

2 Corinthians 11 has Paul in the face of the Corinth church.  They seem to be a bit off track in their thinking.  Paul is concerned that “your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ”.  It seems that the church is at risk to going into the weeds – that they are not mature and discerning of what or who they listen to.  So Paul warns them of these three ways that they could be deceived:

–       “Proclaims another Jesus

–       Receive a different spirit

–       Accept a different gospel

Paul goes on to warn of “false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ….even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”. The church has to be alert and paying attention.  How will we know if there is deception in our territory?  First we need to remember that there is a very real serpent prowling and cunning all around us.  And it is his mission to deceive us.  Secondly we need to know the real thing.  That is how you identify the counterfeit – you are intimately acquainted with what is truth. 

Paul goes on to deal with a recurring theme with the Corinthian church.  They appear to be cheapskates.  He has made it clear over and over that he and his team took care of all their own expenses – allowing folks from other churches to support them – while they ministered to this church.  “I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way”.  Paul is very sensitive to the perception of the church, but this one seems to be a freeloader.  They want it all free of charge.  It seems to have little value to them.  Why is it that we believe we can do church that way?  Why is it that the most important thing in our eternity should be free?  Sure the gospel is free – but the ministry certainly is not.  If there is one place we should feel good about giving our money – it should be to the local ministry of the church.  It should be spreading the message of the gospel that saves people for eternity.  What has more value than that?  Are we any different today?  Or do we hang on to the dollars in our pocket rather than give them cheerfully and freely to God’s work through the church? 

Paul reminds us of the long list of things he endured as a minister of the gospel.  Can you top this list?

–       “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.

–       Three times I was beaten with rods

–       Once I was stoned

–       Three times I was shipwrecked

–       danger from rivers

–       danger from robbers

–       danger from my own people

–       danger from Gentiles

–       danger in the city

–       danger in the wilderness

–       danger at sea

–       danger from false brothers

–       toil and hardship

–       many a sleepless night

–       hunger and thirst

–       often without food

–       cold and exposure

–       daily pressure

Sometimes we think that we have a rough life.  It never hurts to put it in perspective.  Paul endured much for the sake of the gospel.  He sacrificed it all to deliver the message of Christ crucified.  And while he was one of the greatest that has ever lived and served – he did it with humility and total reliance on God.  I love what he says as he closes this chapter: “I will boast of the things that show my weakness”.  This is not the Paul show.  This is God at work in a humble and dedicated servant who is single-minded in sharing the love of Jesus with everyone he touches.  Paul left it all on the mat.  He gave all he had to touch people.  Are you living all out for Jesus?  What does your list look like?

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