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Limits of Paul’s Authority

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A certain dog had always boasted of his ability as a runner. Then one day a rabbit that he was chasing got away. This brought a lot of ridicule from the other dogs because of his previous boasting. His explanation: “You must remember, the rabbit was running for his life, whi … More

Boasting

Paul poses three questions that we may ask ourselves as we seek to measure our ministries:

  1. Am I where God wants me to be? (vv. 13-14) - God is not going to measure us by the gifts and opportunities that he gave to D.L. Moody or Jack Wyrtzen but by our own work. Paul was assigned to go to the Gentiles and he was to go where no other apostle had ministered (Acts 9:15). He was not trying to duplicate the work of others and neither should we.
  2. Is God glorified by my ministry? (vv. 15-17) - The Corinthians were prone to glory in men. When they heard the report of what these Judaizers had done and saw the letters of recommendation that they had, they were very impressed. In comparison, Paul and his ministry looked small and unsuccessful. We must remember that the final test is not when the reports are published  for the annual meeting but at the Judgment  Seat of Christ. If men get the glory, then God cannot be glorified.
  3. Can the Lord commend my work? (v. 18) - How does God show His approval of  our work? It usually comes through testing. He permits difficulties to come in order that our work may be tested and approved. This may come through financial losses, physical hardships or spiritual battles. Whether we fall apart or grow stronger in each situation shows whether God can commend our work or not.

Whenever anybody boasts, Paul says, it is to be in what the Lord has done: “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (vv. 17-18). This certainly wipes out, with one stroke, all the proud evaluations you see men making of their own ministries. You never hear that from Paul. He recognized that the only thing that counts is what Christ does in him, not what he does for Christ.

Application

I want to be able to answer the three questions above in a positive way as it applies to my life. I do not want my life to be spent on myself but on the things that will count for Christ and eternity.

II Corinthians 10:13-18 (English Standard Version)

But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another's area of influence. "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »

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