Friday, 27 November 2015
Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 2 Corinthians 11:7
The transition from the previous verse seems abrupt, but it isn’t really. Paul is displaying irony in the contrast –
“Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. 7 Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?”
After showing that he is trained in knowledge, he asks, “Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted?” In essence, “Am I lacking knowledge in what denotes sin?” Obvious such is not the case, but his actions had been challenged in this way. He humbled himself by working with his own hands in the trade of tentmaker so that those in Corinth would be elevated above himself. His job was lowly, tedious, and not one which made a great deal of money.
If someone came to the church and saw him, they would say, “There is that lowly tent-maker.” In this, the rest of the congregation would seem like much more honorable citizens in whatever job they had. This is evident because he finishes with, “…because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge.”
If the same person came in and saw Paul, knowing that he was a paid preacher, then he would be elevated in the congregation. This is always the case. A person who is paid by the crowd for his talents, be it an actor or a faith healer, is always universally perceived of as exalted and worthy of respect. Paul chose not to exercise his rights to pay and honor, but rather to allow those around him to be elevated above him.
It seems that his detractors found it inappropriate that he didn’t charge for his services in sharing the gospel. This accusation could have been made in a couple of different ways –
1) They may have said that anyone who had a sound message was worth the wages of his labors. Because Paul failed to receive pay from the Corinthians, he proved his own lack of true value. Or,
2) It could be that because Paul accepted pay from other churches (such as the Macedonians noted in verse 9), but not from those in Corinth, it was demeaning to the Corinthians. It has already been noted that the Macedonians were impoverished (2 Corinthians 8:2) and so those at Corinth may infer that Paul is actually shaming toward them by taking from a poor group but refusing pay from them.
It seems that no matter what avenue Paul chose, his detractors would find fault in his actions.
Life application: It is not demeaning to take a lower position than one which a person is otherwise entitled to. In fact, it is a precept which Jesus taught and which He also lived out. Be cautious to not find fault in others when they are willing to show humility. It is a trait which God approves of throughout His word.
Lord God, thank You for those leaders who act with humility and who are willing to associate with those around them, rather than distancing themselves from the crowd. It is a rare trait in this world that our leaders, whether spiritual, political, or work-related, are willing to not exalt themselves. Those who do are following the greatest example of all – Christ, who humbled Himself and walked among us, lowly sinners. Help each of us to have the same attitude towards those around us. Amen.