2 Corinthians 11:28-33

In 2 Corinthians 11:28-33 Paul wraps up the long list of things he has endured in order to be a minister and servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The list is long and painful to read. But he ends it with maybe the thing that most bothers him of all he has and continues to endure – the pressure of shepherding a church. “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” We don’t have much understanding or appreciation for what pastors and teachers have to endure to serve in the ministry. As shepherds of God’s flock, they carry a lot of weight and responsibility and it never ends. While many of us are feeling fatigue during this pandemic being in front of a camera and feeling under a microscope constantly, that’s been the life of a pastor for centuries. Paul feels it.

But it’s not weakness. It is love and caring that creates the pressure. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?” Paul’s deep concern was not for himself.  It was for others; for the weak and those made to fall.  Paul had many burdens, but few of them were for himself.  He, like Jesus, was truly an others-centered person. His concern was for those whom God had entrusted to his care. Hughes explained “This anxiety was based not only on disturbing reports which came to his ears, but on his knowledge of the savage subtlety of the enemy of souls who, he realized, would stop at nothing in his attempts to overthrow the work of the gospel.”

Paul goes on to make sure that he isn’t taking credit in any way, shape or form for living through the long list of things he has endured. “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” What Paul willing to boast about?  What are his credentials as God’s minister for the Gospel?  Only his scars and the things which show his weakness and absolute dependence on God. The weakness Paul refers to may be a specific illness or limitation; more likely, it is the life of hardship and stress he lived overall serving God. The false apostles in Corinth thought the things Paul endured made him look weak and unqualified to serve. Paul did not care if it looked foolish in the eyes of the world or those in the church who thought like the world.  Paul lived with an eternal perspective, not a worldly perspective. His focus was on serving God and Him alone.

Paul makes clear that he’s got his hand on the Bible in telling his story. It’s true and he’s not making things up. “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” Morgan wrote “God knoweth.  He knows what?  Knows all the suffering, knows all the trial, knows all the facts, which he has already referred to, that he is led everywhere in triumph all the way. ‘God knoweth.’  That is the secret of his deepest boasting.” And Paul ends this chapter recalling one of the first times God was there to guide him through a challenge beyond his own ability. “At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.” This is how Paul’s ministry began and he was fine with letting God continue to guide and protect him as he continued to serve as a servant of Jesus Christ.

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