Thursday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

2 Corinthians 12:11-21

Paul’s Deep Hurt

I heard long ago, and perhaps I’ve gotten the details a little jumbled, that a pastor’s wife once wrote a book entitled, They Cry, Too, a book about the pain that pastors often endure in the course of pastoring churches.  And I remember an associate of mine once telling me that nothing hurts worse than the bite of a sheep.  These are true words.  Oh, I’m not saying that pastors are angels and there have been many who were more a detriment to the ministry than an asset.  But I suppose because ministry in and of itself is by nature so deeply personal that words cut deeper, and hints, suspicions, and gossip (not to mention backroom deals) are all the more painful and so very difficult to endure.  No wonder given the low pay and the stress many men walk away from the ministry.  It’s sad but true. 

In this passage, we see as in none other which Paul wrote, the pain he suffered on behalf of this church.  For introducing them to Christ, for teaching them the word of God, for serving as midwife that they may pass from children of wrath to children of God, for not receiving pay for his services and instead providing for his own needs, for confirming the word he spoke through mighty deeds as the Holy Spirit worked through him, in short, for loving them, weeping for them, and praying for them without ceasing, he is rewarded with doubts of his apostleship, insults about his physical stature and lack of eloquence, accusations of being deceitful, and comparisons with false apostles which in the eyes of the Corinthians he comes up short!  Yes, Paul is upset.  And now, even though he began this letter praising God for the good news he received from Titus about their renewed affections for himself, he is still worried about his upcoming visit.  Will there still be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder?  Will the same people still be engaging in sexual sin as they were before?  Will Paul go there with the intention of building them up only to upbraid them and call them to repentance while they look on jeering and mocking?

Men and women get their hands dirty in ministry.  It can be the most rewarding AND the most painful work, both at the same time.  And this is because of sin aided and abetted by the flesh, the world, and the devil.  In ministry worlds collide—the sacred and demonic, the Kingdom of God and the prince of the air, heaven and hell.  Ministers are often caught in the middle of this, even in the church, and sometimes especially in the church.  But we fight not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12).  So if you’re a minister, try not to take it personal and know who the true enemy is.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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