Commended in Every Way2 Corinthians 6:3-13Theme: Commending the Gospel.This week’s lessons teach us how to endure in all circumstances.
LessonThe world pays attention if you are well known. The world listens to those who are not dying, but rather are in the peak of health. The world does not listen to those who are beaten or sorrowful, or poor, but rather to those lifted up in spirit, and rich, and those who appear to have everything. You have to be a ten on a scale of one to ten if you are going to succeed in this world.
The world thought that way in those days, and they thought that way when they saw Paul. They thought Paul was an absolute nobody with nothing to offer. Paul, in a certain sense, agreed. He admitted that the things they thought about him were true. He had not come into the Corinthian community with external polish or with letters of recommendation. He certainly had not come with wealth. But, he knew that if those same people were to look at those things that are unseen, they would see that the opposite was actually true. But, as it stood, the people of Corinth saw Paul as an impostor. They did not believe he was truly an apostle.
Yet Paul knew, and God knew that Paul’s authority was genuine. That was because the Lord Jesus Christ had appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Jesus had called Paul and had given him his mission. So when the people accused him of being an unknown, Paul said that, yes, in the world’s eyes they were correct in their assessment. However, Paul argued, he was known by God, and it was God who had called him. Furthermore Paul was known by other believers.
Paul’s body was wearing out in Christ’s service. Yet, Paul was able to say that through the Spirit, he continued to live on. He acknowledged that he had been beaten, but that he had not been killed because God had preserved him. He admitted to much sorrow. When he would enter into their communities, Paul did not enter into all the exuberant laughter, games, and riotous activities of the Greek world. He knew he came across like an old stick-in-the-mud. Yet in spite of his sorrow, Paul was able to rejoice because he could see what God was accomplishing. He believed himself rich in spiritual things. He may have been deprived materially, and, yet, in Christ, he knew that he possessed all things.
I wonder if that is true of us, or if it is not rather the case – and I fear it is – that we have sold out for the world’s way of doing things. We covet the good reputation, the knowledge, and the health that the world values at the expense of that which is spiritually worthwhile.
Paul gets to the end of this passage, and he speaks of commending himself to the Corinthian believers. It is a commendation to believers, but also to unbelievers, because what Paul is saying in this passage is that the world is not all there is. Unsaved people think that they have to get everything they can out of this world because that is all that matters. I tell you, no. In the final sense, that is not what matters.
God may bless you abundantly in this world. Paul is not saying that everybody else should be as poor as he is. But he is saying that what matters are the things that are eternal. Paul was a living testimony to that, and by that means, he became a living testimony to the Gospel. He wanted to show that it is possible for a man to lose everything in order that he might have Jesus Christ, and because he has Jesus Christ, to know that he really has it all.
That is the way you commend the Gospel to the world. That is why the church has prospered in times of suffering, yet why it has so often failed in times of material prosperity. May God give us grace to live like Paul, in at least some of these areas, and may many people find Christ through our testimony.
Why did worldly people refuse to listen to Paul?
What was the secret of Paul’s contentment?