2 Corinthians 10 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
The situation that the apostle Paul finds himself in at the church in Corinth is not an unusual one in the history of the Church, for he is not the first leader to have been challenged and found wanting by the masses. If Moses were still alive at that point, I’m sure he would have his fair share of stories to tell to Paul and his co-laborers. For, no matter how great a church may seem, it is only a matter of time before Satan seeks to get a foothold and to stir up division with the fellowship. In our text this morning, some have arisen in the church at Corinth calling themselves apostles who had no genuine calling from God in that regard (We’ll hear more about them tomorrow), and they are instigating a rumor in the church that although Paul is a big talker in his letters, even frightening some with his rebukes, he is really just a weak little man who walks in the flesh and that his speech is of no account in person. Even his name, Paul, means small, and some of the early Church fathers leave the impression that he was a diminutive man who wasn’t much to look at.
Here, Paul is assuring the church, which includes these instigators, that he and his co-laborers will show them much boldness and confidence, face-to-face, when they return to Corinth, and that they are ready to punish every disobedience that arises within the realm of their authority. Paul reminds them that God himself had given that authority to them as leaders of the church to build it up rather than to destroy it. Of course, immature Christians don’t always understand the difference between what leads to building up and what leads to destruction. They often think that correction and rebuke destroy and that only positive words build up. But that thinking is not Scriptural. In 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul explains that reproof and correction are needed just as much as teaching for the training of Christians and that these seemingly harsh things are actually profitable in every way. What is unprofitable and destructive is to leave one’s sin unchallenged and to let sinners run amuck in the Church.
So, in a sense, here, Paul begins to boast in regard to his area of influence over them that God has assigned to him, particularly because he was the first one to bring the gospel to the Corinthians before these others had come in and begun teaching them. But, he says in v.15, “we do not boast beyond limits in the labors of others. Our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged.” I think this is the substance of his desire for them, not that he would be able to impress them with his rhetoric or charisma or charm, but that God would so increase their faith that they would understand how faith in Christ really works and how a godly leader might seek to go about building up that faith not only through teaching and training but also through correction and discipline.
I can speak personally to the fact that whenever a new pastor arrives at a church, unless he is a superstar-hipster-televangelist or some other type of popular icon, he doesn’t carry half the gravitas that the previous pastors did in that particular locale, and he knows that. Therefore, he doesn’t go around boasting about what the church has done prior to his coming, since he would be boasting in the labors of others. But his hope is, like Paul’s, that as the faith of the members continue to grow, and as God endears their hearts to the new guy, overtime his area of influence will continue to be enlarged. Notice, though, in v.16, that Paul doesn’t desire merely to have his influence enlarged within that particular group of people, but that their ministry together might extend to others beyond them. For, you see, Paul is praying that their faith might be increased, not merely so that he and they might have a better relationship, but that they all might have a sweeter fellowship with the Lord, and that they all might be more useful in God’s kingdom in proclaiming the gospel to others so that they too might join them in that same sweet fellowship with the Father and with His son Jesus Christ.