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. for you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! for you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. to my shame, i must say, we were too weak for that! but whatever anyone else dares to boast of—i am speaking as a fool—i also dare to boast of that. [2 corinthians 11:16-21]
we’ve seen some sarcasm from paul sprinkled throughout this letter, but he’s laying it on pretty thick here in effort to reach the logical part of the intellect in the corinthian church. the body claims to have wisdom, and yet they are listening to, believing, and submissively taking the abuse of the false teachers who are ravaging the church. these teachers would claim authority because of their race, status, education, and accomplishments, saying that because of these things, God had given them authority in the church. paul points out the degrading behavior shown toward the church that no one was bringing to light, and no one was opposing.
so paul is about to come down to their level of foolishness, and bring into play his own race, status, education, and accomplishments, to show that even with all of these fleshly qualifications, he preaches a true gospel, one of Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God. he brought them this message of salvation without degrading them, without ravaging the church, without putting on airs or taking advantage of anyone physically or financially. he’s appealing to their logic so that hopefully they can see their own folly.
paul is making it so obvious here how ridiculous it is to boast in our own flesh. nothing we are, and nothing we have can make us any more or any less usable by God. only the blood of the lamb, and the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. so why do we still struggle to believe that God’s way of working through us is weak, and strive to supplement when we think he is falling short? Father, forgive me for doubting your complete control over all things!
today, in the presence of the Sovereign One, who gives us worth in Christ alone, let’s pray through this verse:
clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. [1 peter 5:5b-7]
Father, you are holy and righteous, sovereign and good, mighty and full of grace. i am nothing apart from you, and have nothing to offer you. you have given me life, purpose, and an inheritance in your Son, Jesus Christ. all i am and all i have is yours. thank you for the blood that covers me. thank you for using my weakness to show your power. in your faithfulness, keep me humble under your mighty hand. let me not be afraid to hand over completely my sense of control, and do through me as you see fit. make my only boast the gospel of Jesus. thank you for your goodness. thank you for caring for me. amen.