The Christians in Corinth caused their founding pastor Paul more grief than any of the other churches. God gives each of us immeasurable patience, mercy and forgiveness, so we are expected to issue the same measure unto ourselves, and to others. People that accept Jesus as Lord, are not suddenly all polished up into mannerly, forgiving people. Every Christian is a work in progress; and some folks quickly slide out of the potter’s hands. “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) Paul must write a second letter to remind them about the treasure within the jar of clay.
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (4:16)
Paul listened to the complaints, the outbursts of anger, the arrogance, the gossip inside the church. He saw all the disorder and the spirit of unbelief at work among the believers. Wisely he chose to tell them about the things that make him appear weak. Paul told them that he was beaten by rods three times, that he was stoned, shipwrecked three times. He reported that he was tired, and sleepless as he was constantly on the move for Christ’s sake.
Chapter 12 continues with a vision Paul had: In a dream he saw a man who heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell while caught up into the third heaven. Paul said “I will boast about man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weakness.” Paul refrained from speaking about his education, his victories, his progress or his life as a Pharisee. Why? To remain humble and not sound conceited, he was tight lipped so he would NOT be thought of higher than warranted. What warrants any praise is what God had done in Paul, nothing else.
Paul signed off on this letter by asking them to aim for perfection, and be of one mind while living in peace. He urged them to greet one another with a holy kiss as the Lord Jesus pours out His love and grace as they fellowship with the Holy Spirit. As the human body decays, the Spirit thrives as it drives us towards speaking about that which is worthy and good. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (5:20)
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:10)
In my weakness, in my flesh, in any circumstance I can be insulted; in certain predicaments I can feel humiliated; and while in crises I can feel ashamed. Let us choose for Christ’s honor and glory, to remember that in our flesh we are weak, but we are “in Christ”, and He is our strength, therefore we are strong “in Him”.
Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Alley Hoyle.
All rights reserved.
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“It is finished.” 4/20/19