Friday, 11 December 2015
To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also. 2 Corinthians 11:21
In the preceding verses, Paul noted that the Corinthians had put up with fools who brought them into bondage, devoured them, stolen from them, exalted themselves above them, and even struck them in the face. Paul now says that, “To our shame I say that we were too weak for that!” The “we” is emphatic and is intended with the greatest of irony. In essence, “They treated you shamefully, but we were too weak to be able to treat you in that same way.”
The irony is that no one should ever treat one they love that way and so his “weakness” was that he treated them with respect and love. And yet, the Corinthians were turning their hearts to the ones who shamefully treated them and away from their loving father in the faith.
However, to show that he really isn’t weak, but that his conduct was appropriate, he continues on with the words, “But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also.” The word “bold” is translated various ways – daring, courageous, to presume, to boast. The idea is a type of boasting in his many achievements, some of which were more than daring. This will be seen in the explanation that follows.
In his foolish speaking, he will describe his qualifications to show that he is not only comparable to them in their boasting, but that he is eminently qualified. Starting in the next verse, and going on through verse 10 of the next chapter, he will list those qualifications. It is a foolish endeavor, yes, but it is one which has been necessitated by the attitude of the Corinthians towards the false teachers. If they need to have someone to follow who can boast about his qualifications, then they will get a mouthful from Paul!
Life application: It is right to be humble and not bragging about one’s own achievements, but Paul shows that there is a time when it becomes necessary to show past achievements in order to establish a baseline for others to understand the quality of the man. This doesn’t mean unnecessary boasting, but rather it may be as simple as providing proof that you can empathize with the plight of others because you have been in the same place as they are. When necessary, be ready to use your past to help others properly evaluate the world around them.
Heavenly Father, help keep me from unnecessary boasting in my achievements. Should revealing my past be necessary for others to understand who I am or my qualifications in whatever issue arises, help me to return the glory to you for having placed me where I was in order to become who I am now. My life has been directed by You, and so help me to acknowledge that truth at all times. Keep me from self-boasting and the pride which so easily misdirects my allegiance to You. Amen.