Today's Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 11
Selected Biblical Text
1 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles." 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. 7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do! (2 Cor. 11:1-11 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
Paul had an intense love for the church at Corinth. He describes that love as a godly jealousy. Like a bride promised to a husband, Paul has promised the Corinthians to Christ. The ultimate choice, however, does not belong to Paul. He is concerned that the members at Corinth could be deceived and led astray; they could veer from their devotion to Christ. They could be distracted by a different message with a different Jesus, a different Spirit, and a different gospel. Paul is concerned that they would not even notice the difference, and that they would put up with those deceivers who do not act out of motives of love.
Therefore, Paul reminds his readers of his love for the people of his ministry. He worked at a trade so he could preach the gospel without burdening them (free of charge). He accepted support from other churches; he sacrificed for the gospel. Why? Because of his intense love for them!
What happens when a minister or missionary really loves the people he is working with? What is the connection between loving people and evangelism that effectively shares the gospel? Have you known situations where ministers entering a new ministry context failed to appreciate the work and effort that had been expended in the past to bring people to Christ, or where such a minister failed to love the people enough to secure them and protect them and support them in difficult times? We expect ministers to love the people. How can elders or shepherds make clear that they love the people in the flock? How would you know whether an elder loved the people or not? What actions would you expect? How do we act toward people we really love?
Dear God, help us to grow in our love for people, learning to love them even as you love them. Help us to love to such an extent that no price is too great to pay for the salvation and faithfulness of those you love. Help your people learn to love like you do, so that the gospel message will echo forth. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.