Monday, February 4, 2008

The inferior church

In the passage we studied yesterday (2 Cor. 12:11-18), Paul charged the Corinthian church in verse 13, "How were you inferior to the other churches?" He goes on to answer his own question, "...except that I was never a burden to you?" As we reflect on what he's saying, the obvious question becomes: why didn't Paul take a collection from Corinth?

Was Corinth poor? We learned earlier in his letter (chapter 9) that they have excess money to share. Did Paul not deserve to make a living from the church in Corinth? In his first letter to Corinth, he gives a lengthy discourse explaining precisely why he had the right to collect (1 Cor. 9). Yet, he claims that to collect from them would hinder the gospel. Why?

As we have discussed, the Corinthians were accustomed to paying their teachers. The better the teacher, the more they paid. Paul felt that if he became a "burden" to the Corinthian Christians, then they may think as though they contributed something of value to the Gospel by their giving, thus enabling themselves to have received it. Indeed, with Paul's refusal to take their financial support, the Corinthians' pride was hurt. They felt inferior to other churches, and yet Paul continues in verse 14 to tell them that he would still not take any offering from them. For, despite their attitude toward wealth, Paul states, "what I want is not your possessions but you."

God wants us to receive his Gospel as empty vessels, fully aware that we have nothing to offer. For Corinth, they wanted to offer their wealth to help God. For us, could it be our knowledge, our skills, our good deeds? God asked Job, blameless as he was, what he had done that God should repay him (Job 41:11). All our knowledge, our skills, even our righteous behavior and any good work is only a gift of grace from God the Father. We are empty vessels that God chooses to fill, and then use. We should rejoice that we are "inferior" so that God alone may glorified.

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  • Hi Nick - thanks for posting this. Unfortunately I had to miss ABF and church yesterday because I caught that sinus cold bug that's been going around, so I am glad I can review the lesson here! Thanks again!
    -Mary Ann-

    By Blogger M Tai, At February 4, 2008 at 10:38 PM  

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