Lord, please protect us from being impressed by people who promote their human values and standards, and teach us to root our identities only in things that matter to You. We want to develop faith and obedience in all areas of our lives so we can validate the gift of faith we received from Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read 2 Corinthians 9-11
2 Corinthians 9:1–15 Paul bragged on the Corinthians’ past generosity and sent Titus to help them meet their giving goal with enthusiasm. If believers learned to trust that God rewards openhanded giving, then they could trust Him to provide what they need to do kingdom work. Those who learn to be generous will receive both physical and spiritual provision from God, who is aware of even the needs of animals. Paul and Timothy saw believers’ financial support of others as evidence of their faith. Believers should adopt a kingdom-minded understanding of wealth; they should value meeting needs, being generous, and showing off God’s goodness much more than building their own savings.
Notice Paul’s concern that the Corinthians not embarrass or shame Paul and Timothy’s trust in them. In much the same way, Paul and Timothy were obligated to honor God’s words by keeping pristine reputations. They taught the Corinthians to honor the gospel investment they’d received.
2 Corinthians 10:1–18 Paul rejected the attacks that had been made on his and Timothy’s character and re-established his authority over the opposing Corinthian voices. Paul and Timothy lived by God’s spiritual standards, not the human values of their opponents; they even refused to compare their lives with others’. Instead, Paul offered the quality of his commitment and sincerity of his life as proof of his God-given authority.
Notice how Paul derived his reputation and credibility from God’s work in the people he’d previously shared with. He refused to play comparison games with hierarchies, knowledge, or experience.
2 Corinthians 11:1–33 Even though he felt ridiculous discussing his own credibility, Paul pushed the Corinthians to be more discerning about those they trusted and respected because God’s enemies often pose as people of light. They fell for the apparent prestige of false teachers in their city, and Paul argued his own (simple, caring, humble) lifestyle among them was better proof of his authority than the false teachers’ self-promoting ways. Because the Corinthians were impressed by the false teachers’ claims, however, he proved his experiential superiority by relating the ways he had willingly and repeatedly risked his life to help reconcile people to God.
2 Corinthians 9:8
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Based on everything so far in 2 Corinthians, there are right and wrong ways to demonstrate validity in God’s kingdom. Believers’ credibility is established when their lives clearly show God’s work. It has very little to do with their achievements, charisma, resumes, or background.
- Are there times you sometimes feel insecure in your faith? Though many people start introspective searching, Paul says believers prove the validity of their faith through their obedient lifestyles. Think with a fellow disciple about action steps you can take to reinforce your faith to yourself.
Choose two of the following:
- Work with a fellow disciple to develop a narrative of your walk with God that focuses on the things most important to God.
- Paul explains generosity two ways: as a desire to tangibly meet others’ needs, and as a love of sharing resources for equal benefit. Generosity is the spiritual fruit of God’s material investments in believers’ lives. In light of this, think about your city. What things are considered most valuable? Ask people around you whom they consider most generous. Then stay alert and commit to meeting the needs God brings your way.
- Even though the Corinthians had a willingness to give, they still needed help and the structures in place to do it well. Are there areas in your life where you may need guidance or systems to help you exercise your spiritual role?