Paul is admitting here that even the lack of self-awareness of any negligence on his part doesn’t prove his faithfulness and obedience to God…for only God can judge. As Believers we are all held accountable to…responsible for…and entrusted with the Gospel Message. To paraphrase II Corinthians 10:18, We can’t just hear the Word to be in right standing with God…we must obey it. And in the end, we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of our Lord.
The area of our lives that the devil is most easily able to gain a foothold… is when we have unforgiveness in our hearts. II Corinthians 2:10-11 tells us that we need to forgive in order that Satan might not outwit us. When we harbor unforgiveness, we allow the devil to capture a place in our heart…setting up a position – a base of operations for further advancement against us. We need to remain then vigilant…forgiving and forgetting quickly, so as not to allow him the ability to take advantage over us.
What’s it mean to excel in the grace of giving? Here the Apostle Paul was encouraging the Church in Corinth to be generous in their giving to others. Generosity can be a learned behavior…we see our parents or family acting unselfishly with their money or time…and we do the same. But on the other hand, dire circumstances we’ve lived through can also determine how generous we are, or not. Fearless generosity is an investment into God’s Kingdom work and excelling in this grace of giving is the start of that bold approach.
You’ve all heard, bad things happen to good people…and it’s not “if” but “when” trouble will come your way. And just because you call yourself a Christian doesn’t mean you’ll somehow be insulated from the evil in this world. For in your lifetime you will have sickness, setbacks, and loss…there’s no getting around it…for we all live in a very broken world. But it’s how you react and face each trouble that will make all the difference. With God you have the ability to stand your ground when evil comes your way. II Corinthians 6:7 tells us, “…in the power of God; with weapons in the right hand and in the left.” You can stand and face down anything the world throws at you with God’s Word… His truth in one hand, and His promises in the other. We don’t have to live in fear of tomorrow. For we have weapons to extinguish all those fiery darts thrown our way. We can then stand firm in the power of God…faithful not fearful, confident not cowering, trusting not trembling.
All of us do it…we daydream. Pleasant fantasies that transport us from the drab and boring into over the top imaginings. But if we indulge in these musings more and more, they will soon take over our life…for the real world can never compete with fantasy. And it’s here in this verse we’re warned about willful pleasure-seeking thoughts. As humans living in a sinful world – ungodly thoughts are going to drop into our minds…thoughts that can even shock and embarrass us. Like, “Where did THAT come from?!!) But it’s at that moment we have to take captive that thought and make it obedient to Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5) For if we give in and allow these thoughts to have their way in our mind…our vivid daydreams will lead us farther and farther from God into disobedience.
Jesus spoke of this glory in John 17:22, when He said, “I have given them the glory that You gave Me that they may be one as we are one.” When we become Christians, we undergo a spiritual transformation…a invisible process, a metamorphosis if you will, where our very character is changed. And by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit we become a mirror, reflecting Jesus to others. But you’ll also notice that this Scripture says we are “being” transformed with “ever-increasing” glory…which means His work in us will never be completely done until that day we meet Him face to face.
Natural human love expects something in return. To sacrifice for you, you must first be really special to me, and then I also expect to be reciprocated for what I did. But in this Scripture, Paul was willing to give it all…that I may be able to get you to God. The real test here isn’t one’s willingness to teach or preach, but one’s willingness to serve. Service to others takes our time, energy, and emotional strength. It encroaches on our personal space…robs us of “me” time, and turns our carefully crafted schedules upside-down. Expending yourself for the Gospel… helping, and supporting others is a thankless job by human estimation…but it’s counted as everything in the eternity of God.
One of the pit-falls of any ministry is that we start glorifying ourselves, not God. Pride starts to push itself in…and soon our ego is searching for the limelight and honor. II Corinthians 4:1 states, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” It’s only because of God’s infinite compassion on us that we have any kind of ministry at all. And it’s only because of the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering us that we can act as ambassadors, representing our Lord. When a ministry glorifies God…and not our egos, good things happen.