Today's Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 10
Selected Biblical Text
12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else's territory. 17 But, "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Cor. 10:12-18 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
In answer to those who opposed him at Corinth, in today's text Paul writes about the "place" of ministry God has given him. Paul has no desire to go beyond the limits God has set; he seeks only to honor the place God has provided, which place includes the Corinthians. His claim is that his opponents are out of their place, that is, beyond their boundaries or limits, because they are boasting about the work Paul has accomplished in his area of work. One of the phrases Paul uses may refer to athletes who must run in their own lane.
One of the more difficult questions in ministry and in Christian living concerns our "place." Where does God want us to be? We want to serve where we can be most effective, so the answer we give to the question of "place" is often influenced by our human concerns. A contemporary application of the "place" principle may be seen in analyzing mission reports. Sometimes the same results are reported by several different missionaries who happen to be present when something occurs; each report leaving the impression that most of the credit belongs to the one reporting with little or no mention of the others who were involved and supporting the effort. Can we learn to be content with the work and the results God gives us in our field? Can we learn to honor the value of working together without regard for who receives the credit?
How is Paul's description of his "place" in God's ministry and kingdom an effective antidote to the accusations and activities of the false teachers at Corinth? What does it mean to you to "run in your lane"? Can you think of some examples of ministers or Christians who did not honor the "place" where God put them? Why did Paul not want to build on someone else's foundation or to work in someone else's territory? Why was that important to him?
Dear God, help us as we seek to find our unique niche and place in your kingdom work. Give us wisdom as we seek your will and way. Thank you for the place where you have put us, even if it does not seem the best or most desirable place or situation to us. Thank you for your wisdom in working all things for good. Give us patience as we work in our place, and help us serve faithfully as we depend on you for the results you desire. Help us avoid conflicts of jealousy and competition. May the Kingdom be advanced in every place around the world, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.