as the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of achaia. and why? because i do not love you? God knows i do! [2 corinthians 11:10-11]
one of my favorite things to do as my kids get older is to embarrass them in little ways here and there. i’m not trying to be mean, i’m partially teaching them not to take themselves so seriously, and partially amused by their reactions. of course, i love them immeasurably, so i’m not embarrassing them out of spite or to ruin their lives – though they might take it that way when they get a little older.
here’s my point – in corinth, the fact that paul didn’t charge for his teaching but gave it away freely caused the people to call into question the value of what paul was saying, they considered a free speaker poor and his message worthless.
not only that, but paul boasted of his weaknesses in a culture which placed immense value in strength, worldly possessions, and vanity. anyone who would have followed paul at the time would be associated with weakness, self-denial, and servanthood. as you can imagine, it wasn’t a popular message.
you can see how the corinthians, once enamored by the gospel, could be easily wooed away by teachers whose messages aligned more with the popular, worldly values of the day. teachers who made themselves look valuable by charging money for their message and likely changing the good news of the gospel in such a way that the people wouldn’t have to give up popular cultural norms.
so when paul came in with an unpopular view on sin and boasted in unpopular characteristics like weakness, and didn’t charge for his speaking, and was probably rather loud about it…the corinthians were likely embarrassed. and paul addresses this embarrassment head on – he declares that he won’t be silenced, and it’s not because he doesn’t love them, but because their embarrassment stemmed from their worldly ways.
one of the ways we extend God’s love to people is to show them what it looks like not to conform to accepted cultural sin. it’s easy to be annoyed with the corinthians, but how do people today react when Christians openly call out sin and live lives that don’t make sense to them? it’s honestly not much different now than it was then.
the call to love and live differently is the same today as it was in corinth long ago, and the consequences are the same too. praise God that the one who overcomes the world is eternally unchanging. he strengthened paul with boldness to love radically, and he strengthens us too.
consider these questions:
- are there any sins in your life or the lives of others that you overlook because they’re culturally acceptable?
- what consequences could comfort with “pet sins” bring about in your life or the lives of others?
- how would your life have to change in order to take all sin seriously and live in the truth of the gospel?
~ erin boettge