Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11:13-40
Paul was being disrespected by church in Corinth. He could have bragged and yelled and put up a fit, instead he took it and let the Lord sort it out. Sort of!
2 Corinthians 10:14-18
For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labors; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,16 To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand.17 But he that glorieth [boasts], let him glory in the Lord.18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
Paul could boast because he got the Gospel all the way to Corinth. He’s hoping things go well here so he can move on, but he won’t boast about plans or other people’s work either. In the end, Paul’s opinion of his ministry doesn’t matter; only the Lord’s does.
1 Corinthians 4:3-4
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
Small thing—not a despising of their judgment, but in contrast to God’s opinion, it really isn’t weighty. Paul doesn’t even assume the right to judge himself. Your conscience is not an infallible guide.
2 Corinthians 11:29-31
Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?30If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.31The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knows that I lie not.
Paul is sympathetic with the weak, he burns when seeing them offended—made to sin by a “stronger” brother. Paul has seen the virtue of weakness, the stuff that no one would rationally boast about.
2 Corinthians 12:1-5
It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.
Paul got a heavenly vision, a revelation from God, some of which he could not repeat. Saw a glorious vision that defied description. The vision made Paul see his infirmities in contrast to the heavenly glory. Rather than making him boast about how great he was for getting a vision; it made him very aware of his weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:6-9
For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Exalting self is such a temptation and dangerous thing, even Paul, who has legitimate reason to boast, avoids it. Rest upon—cover me like a tent.
“The Lord has more need of our weakness than of our strength: our strength is often His rival; our weakness, His servant,”
2 Corinthians 12:10-11
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 11 I am become a fool [insane] in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
Paul is content in and with his infirmities. Corinth should have commended him all along and then he wouldn’t have a need to commend himself. Paul is uncomfortable defending himself, but never should have been in this spot.