Tuesday, 17 November 2015
…not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, 2 Corinthians 10:15
In just the previous verse, Paul noted that his sphere of influence extended to those in Corinth, even those who opposed him. Therefore, he cannot be charged with “boasting of things beyond measure.” Rather, it was those who exalted themselves that were following this exact path. As Paul had introduced the gospel there and established the church, then when someone made themselves the standard by which the churches’ affairs were to be evaluated, they stepped over Paul’s sphere of influence, not the other way around.
Continuing on, he notes that his sphere is not “in other men’s labors.” This was a principle tenet of Paul. He sought to establish churches where none existed. It is true that he met with churches established by others, but he did not extend his “sphere of influence” over them. It is one thing for a pastor to go to a different church while traveling and join in the fellowship, but it is another for him to walk into that church and ask for a seat behind the pulpit with the pastor of that church. He has no right to such a position because it is not within his sphere of influence.
In contrast to inappropriately extending his authority, he had rightly done so. As he says to them, “…having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere.” The verb here is present tense – “increases.” As the faith of those in Corinth increases, the fruits of his labors will also increase. In this, he is giving them a delicate rebuke that it is their lack of faith which is withholding the fruits of the labors he and his associates had sewn. They were as if stubborn seed, not willing to put forth the harvest of grain despite the many efforts that had been invested in them.
However, the present tense notes that their faith is increasing and as it continued to do so, it would begin to bear fruit. This is the hope of any good spiritual leader. Eventually, the students will be able to stand up and also begin the process of tilling the soil, sewing the grain, watering the land, and pulling up the weeds as they come forth. The cycle of spreading the gospel would continue in the Corinthians as their faith and knowledge increased.
Life application: Everything that we do should have attached to it the end goal of bringing the gospel to others until the entire church is built up to its completion. When that day comes, the Lord will call his people to be with Himself for all eternity. Let us never tire as we continue on with this marvelous work, began so long ago.
Lord God, You have been building Your church for over 2000 years, and You are working through Your people to make this happen. Help us to be obedient to our calling and to never tire as we continue on with sharing this message of hope, peace, and reconciliation which comes from You. Grant us hearts that are rightly set on rescuing souls from an otherwise very unhappy end. May You be glorified through our sharing of this eternity-changing message. Amen.