2 Corinthians 11:16-33 (NIV)
Paul Boasts About His Sufferings
16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
Both Jesus’ and Paul’s gentleness was misunderstood as weakness. How has that resulted in blessing? (see Matt 5:5)
People were drawn to Jesus and Paul because of their gentleness. Being gentle allowed people to trust them and listened to what they had to say, which of course was the great message of salvation. The people who thought of Jesus and Paul as weak were the ones who felt threatened by that very gentleness, such irony in that. Pauls boasting in this passage must have sounded like weakness to some, why would anyone boast about shipwrecks and beatings? Because Paul was showing his commitment to the Lord through all of his sufferings to preserve the truth of the Lord, he knew that many of the church leaders were trying to pervert the Gospel message. He willingly submitted himself to hard times because of his compassion for God’s people.
Lord prepare my heart and mind that I might become a more gentle and compassionate person. May your Holy Spirit fill my heart to listen to those around me, give me words of tenderness, compassion, and wisdom. In these strange times Lord I ask that my heart would not become weary in doing good, you have said that you would not return void and for that reason, I seek you and pray earnestly for strength. I pray for the gentle words that turn away wrath, let my words be discerning so that you would be Glorified. Let me find ways to boast about your goodness to me in spite of all the things I do in my often stubborn ways. Forgive my pride and accept my praise and thankfulness for your love. Amen
Today’s prayer was submitted by Jo Schneider