Boasting 5: Conclusion
|I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-apostles," even though I am nothing. 12 The things that mark an apostle--signs, wonders and miracles--were done among you with great perseverance. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! (2Corinthians12:11-13)|
Here we see some of his hurt and sadness coming through because, at the end of the day, they should have commended him and not put him in this place where he had to commend himself.
Here's what they should have commended him for:
- He is not in any way inferior to the "super-apostles" (in fact he was their founding pastor and stayed longer with them than anyone else)
- Through his persevering ministry signs, wonders and miracles were done. (What one reads between the lines is that there were times where people were ministered to over a long period of time)
- He treated them like he treated all other congregations (In fact he'd treated them better than others: He stayed with them for a long time, received no financial support from them and had written them more than one letter.)
- He was never a burden to them
It is this last point that leaves a particularly bitter taste in Paul's mouth. He had been a self-supporting minister and had not burdened the congregation with his costs or asked them for a "preaching fee." Unfortunately people are often guilty of devaluing things that they receive for free. I remember spending hours and hours counselling a person, who then went to an expensive psychologist who told them exactly what I had, but because of the cost of the therapy sessions, the person then went and did what needed to be done - It's a very sad indictment on us as human beings that we value things based on their cost...
Paul is very sad and disappointed at their shallow perception that because the "super-apostles" were "expensive" their ministry was better. This comes across in his final sarcastic apology.
Throughout this section of "boasting" we have sensed Paul's acute discomfort at resorting to measures like this - but he is desperate for the church and does what is needed to bring them back. The contrast between Paul and the super-apostles is very clear: True greatness lies in service and sacrifice, not in boasting and making demands.