Ecclesiastes 4-6 2 Corinthians 12
“Do you think we have been defending ourselves to you all this time? We have been speaking in Christ and before God. You are our dear friends, and everything we do is to make you stronger.” (2 Corinthians 12:19 NCV)
Paul’s defense of his ministry to the Corinthians might seem strange at first. He didn’t care, in general what people thought about him. What he realized was that as people exalted these false apostles, and, at the same time, belittled Paul’s ministry, they were attacking the faith of those who had come to Christ under Paul’s ministry. It was a clever tactic by Paul’s opponents because if they could undercut their faith, they could draw them to their own perversion of the gospel. And, they’d milk them for all the money they could. For these false teachers, it really was “all about the Caesars” (to coin a phrase.)
It’s a common tactic that’s still being used today. If you can discount the messenger, you can discount the message. As Christians, we make it all too easy for people to discount us, and the message of God’s love by our behavior. We claim that God is love, but show hatred towards people around us who are different. We say that God forgives sins, but show no grace to non-Christians because their sins are different from ours. We claim that God calls us to be holy, but are more willing to forgive a Christian’s sinful behavior than the same behavior from a non-Christian – even though we should expect Christians to know the right thing to do, while we can’t expect that from non-Christians. Paul lived an exemplary life and did amazing work as an apostle. When critics attacked him, he could respond. If we want people to listen to the message we have of God’s amazing love and forgiveness, our lives should reflect that as well so that when people attack us for our faith, we can show how we lived according to God’s grace.
Lord, if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The foundation of our message is Your love and grace. We will never see them destroyed. The world looks at us as the foundation of the message, though, so help us to live so that our lives honor You.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.