August 18 – Today’s Readings – 2Corinthians 10-11 and Psalms 48
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” (2Corinthians 11:2-5)
I kind of feel sorry for the Apostle Paul. Here is the founder and a recognized Apostle in the Church at Corinth, having to defend his own ministry to the Church because they have had other preachers in, calling themselves Super-Apostles, who were “having their way” with the Church. Paul goes so far as to call them “false Apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as Apostles of Christ”. Then he even labels them servants of Satan!
So, in Paul’s mind, an Apostle was far more than a preacher who called himself and Apostle – “Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2Corinthians 11:23-28)
Maybe we too should have a second look at the labels we throw at people – unless of course the label really does “stick” to the person.
Corinth was a Church that had so much going for it and yet had so much to learn. On the one hand our desire is to be just as zealous as this Church with all the miracles that took place and all the spiritual gifts operating. However, this place was also a nightmare of problems and needed some serious, consistent and strong spiritual leadership. Because of the very nature of people and the Church, we are susceptible to all kinds of difficulties. We need to be in the Word, in the Spirit, and in “community” if we are to avoid some of the pitfalls the Corinthian Church faced.
1. Give another Biblical example of “false ministry” and how God felt about it.
2. Can you give a reason why “Godly”, proven ministers are sometimes mistreated by the Churches they serve or have birthed?