2 Corinthians 10:7-18
All about Boasting
In the passage we are taking up today, we will begin where Paul end: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” This is so important to remember. We live in a world that is predicated on hubris; we are supposed to exalt ourselves and sell ourselves. Book stores have more books on self-help and self-esteem than any other topic. And yet, the more we talk about self-esteem, the less people seem to have of it. And so people speak empty boasts and take public pride in personal behaviors which actually deserve public shame and personal repentance.
In speaking of pride and boasting, Paul is referring to the false teachers or brethren who moved in to the church at Corinth upon his departure with the purpose of turning their hearts against him—a truly despicable thing to do. They compared themselves with Paul and came away thinking that they looked pretty good; after all, they were better speakers, apparently taller and physically stronger, and were also convinced that they were full of knowledge and wisdom. Surely Paul couldn’t be much of an apostle if these wandering preachers were bigger and better than him.
But Paul calls out the foolishness of comparing ourselves with one another; it is Christ with whom we have to do, before whom we either stand of fall. Paul refuses to enter into some foolish “I’m a better Christian than you are” debate. But there is something to which Paul does appeal in this passage. He writes that whereas the “super-apostles” think so highly of themselves that they went to uproot a church the foundation of which another apostle laid, Paul and his companions are so humble as not to overextend themselves; that is, they refuse to work in another apostle’s field of labor and content themselves with preaching the gospel where it has yet to be proclaimed. And their greatest hope was simply that after having preached at Corinth that this same church which they had planted would be a base for them to preach the gospel in lands beyond them. But now this hope and their privilege to serve the Kingdom by being a mission base for Paul that he might win others to Christ as he had won them was in jeopardy, thanks to their inability to tell truth from falsehood, the authentic from the fraud.
We are far beyond the apostolic age but there is still something to be said for having a field of gospel labor and working in that field without extending into that of another, be it a neighborhood or the place where you work. Be content with where God has placed you—and serve there with humility.