Friday, September 23, 2011

2 Corinthians 12: A Leader's Resume

When applying for a new job or a promotion, what type of resume would you submit? Naturally, you would share your education and work credentials to show your qualification for the job. In gospel work, however, the ways of the world are foolishness.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul defends his ministry to the church at Corinth against the so-called super-apostles. They not only boasted in their accomplishments (2 Cor 10:12), but they derided Paul because he would not (2 Cor 10:10). From here he takes an interesting tactic. Paul reinforces that all boasting is to be done in the Lord, and not in self-commendation (2 Cor 10:17-18). He shows them what foolishness boasting in the flesh is:
I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast...But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. (2 Corinthians 11:16-18,21-23).
Paul really was far more qualified than anyone else, but he loathed fleshly boasting. He mentioned that he was playing the fool six times in chapter 11.

Paul finishes his foolishness in chapter 12 and then demonstrates the real strength of his resume.

On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:4)

Why would he do that? Because the real source of qualification does not come from within but from God. So there is no room for personal boasting, and Paul demonstrates all boasting is in the Lord.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)
How many churches would hire a pastor if all he interviewed on was his weaknesses? I'm guessing none, but he would probably be the most qualified applicant they've ever seen.

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