As we jump into 2 Corinthians 11:30-33, it’s important to remember the context. Earlier in the chapter, the apostle Paul said he was “speaking as a fool” (v. 21) and boasting about his strengths as a minister. This is what the false apostles were doing, and he decided to beat them at their own game.
In verse 30, though, Paul shifts tones and starts talking about his weakness. He does so in order to shake loose the Corinthians’ grip on the “super-apostles.” He writes:
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.– v. 30
In verse 31, Paul says:
The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.
With this setup, you would expect Paul to go into launch into some awesome, heroic tale. But instead, what he says next is somewhat (and probably intentionally) ironic.
At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
Paul didn’t put himself out there to look awesome. He put himself out there to look humble and meek – almost as if he were a failure. In doing so, he deflates the whole Corinthian culture of promoting things and people that seem awesome.
The apostle Paul had every reason to boast about his qualifications (see verses 21-29). But he didn’t want the Corinthians to see him as awesome.
Boasting in Our Weakness
The big idea is, as Christians, we’re free from the worldly values of trying to glorify ourselves.We don’t see worldly strength and status as the epitome of what it means to be good. We are free from trying to glorify ourselves and following those who do so. Instead, we embrace the kingdom values of sacrifice and service. We follow Christ and embrace those who glorify Him.
This has a lot of implications for us. Here are just a few areas where these implications might work themselves out:
We as Christians should be different from non-Christians on social media. Why? Because we’re free from the desire to glorify ourselves. We don’t need to waste our time trying to look awesome.
You may be a perfectionist because you don’t want anyone to know you make mistakes. It’s okay, though! Your life isn’t about you seeming perfect.
You may really hate to get embarrassed. But it’s okay to look foolish, weak and like a failure. The Christian life is about glorifying God and not ourselves.
We shouldn’t evaluate ministers based on how strong they look or what status they have. We evaluate them based on servitude and sacrifice. For us, also, we should minister in a way that glorifies God and not ourselves.
With these and other examples in mind, here are two questions to ask:
- “Am I falling for foolish boasting?” Are you believing the images presented on social media? Do you spend a great deal of energy trying to keep up an awesome personal image? Are you ashamed of your weakness?
- “Am I embracing humility?” Are you embracing a lifestyle of service and self-sacrifice? Do you glorify God as you minister to others?
As we continue to follow Christ and live according to His Word, may we be increasingly free from glorifying ourselves. May we glorify God in everything!
Devotional streamed on Facebook Live – Wednesday, May 6 @ 3:00 PM