Wednesday, 27 May 2015
For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12
In the previous verses, Paul spoke of the great trials he had faced and the prayers lifted up for him concerning that ordeal, as well as his on-going trials, all leading to his deliverance. Based on that, he now offers this thought. Beginning with, “For our boasting is this…” The word for “boasting” is translated by some as “rejoicing,” “pride,” “confidence,” and “glory.” It is a boast, but it is one directed towards God. And so “glorying” is a good word to help transmit that idea.
What he and those he was with “boasted” or “gloried” in was “the testimony of our conscience.” In the book of Acts and in his epistles, Paul uses the term conscience as a most important aspect of this life. It was a conscience filled not with his own attitudes and desires, but one filled with living for the Lord. He says it this way in Acts 23:1 –
“Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, ‘“Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.'”
This “conscience” that he speaks of now toward the Corinthians is “that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity.” He knew that their actions were in line with the truth of God and with the good of others in mind at all times. There was nothing pretentious or showy about their conduct. Instead, there was humility and honesty instilled by God in it.
In further explanation, he notes that it was “not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God.” In 1 Corinthians 2, he wrote this –
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
In the same fashion, he is again telling the Corinthians that he and his companions words and actions were those of people living “in the spirit” and not “in the flesh.” Instead of following the way of the world in their conduct, they attempted to live by the grace of God. And finally, he notes that this grace was “more abundantly toward you.”
His love for those in Corinth is evident in these words. The first letter that he wrote to them addressed divisions and conflicts in the congregation. He knew that his life and actions towards them had to reflect the highest character and godliness in order that they may not become disenchanted with a seeming “hypocrite” in their presence. For this reason, he endeavored to be completely holy before them. In this, he could then glory in God who bestowed such grace as to live in this manner.
Life application: Eyes are watching our actions at all times. Our non-believing neighbors and co-workers see us and make value judgments about Christ based on what we do. But also those in the church are watching. If one weaker in the faith sees that our actions aren’t the epitome of character and godliness, they may also decide that the walk isn’t worth the effort. Let us always attempt to walk in holiness before the Lord and in the presence of others.
Heavenly Father, I know that others are watching my life and actions and are then making value judgments about the faith I possess in You – Is it true? Is it noble? Is it honoring of God? Help me to be cautious with my words, careful with my actions, and circumspect in how I live my life before others. I know that their ultimate end is based on a relationship with Jesus. And so help me to reflect a person who will lead others to Him, not from Him. This I pray that You will be glorified. Amen.