Have you been in a situation where you are defending your ability or accomplishments? Have you done something and had someone distort it or assassinate your motives? Paul is very embarrassed and says so in the next four chapters. He has been forced to defend himself and this to him sounds like self-promotion and bragging which he loathed.
We have all been around self-promoters and people who manipulated even like Absalom who stole the heart of Israel from his own father. This he did by criticizing his father and of course telling them things would be different if he were king. Apparently, that's what was being done at Corinth to Paul.
God hates this. He hates backbiting, manipulation, griping and complaining. He hates the pride behind self-promotion and self-seeking. We must guard our hearts against this form of pride. More than that, we must use discernment when picking our leaders so that we are not manipulated by the self-seeking.
I. CORINTHIAN CRITICISM AND PAUL'S RESPONSE (1 Corinthians 10:7-11) .
A. A Call to Discernment (1 Corinthians 10:7-a) .
1. Human beings tend to jump to conclusions based on outward appearances and surface facts.
(1 Samuel 16:7) , ". . . man looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh on the heart."
(Proverbs 18:13) , "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him."
(John 7:24) , "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.")
2. Paul's point to the Corinthians is that they needed more of the facts before they rejected his apostleship in order to follow the false teachers.
B. Surface Charges against Paul (1 Corinthians 10:7-b-11) .
1. They claimed they belonged to God (1 Corinthians 10:7-b) .2. They charged Paul with inconsistency. That he was forceful in writing but timid in person (1 Corinthians 10:8-11) .
C. Paul's Defense (1 Corinthians 10:7-b-11) .
II. PAUL'S COUNTERCHARGE OF IMPROPER BOASTING (1 Corinthians 10:12-18) .1. He belongs to Christ no less than do his opponents (1 Corinthians 10:7-b) .2. His apostolic authority was to build believers rather than tear down believers (1 Corinthians 10:8) . This is a challenge to the false teachers. What churches did they start? What churches did they build or increase?3. He promises that what he is in letter he will be in person (1 Corinthians 10:11) . What you see is what you get. Sincerity is consistent whereas actors are not.a. Paul's physical presence -- he was short, had an eye defect and possibly, an illness that was increasingly debilitating.b. Paul preached as powerfully in presence as he did through letters -- see (Acts 9:22) (Acts 17:3-4) (Acts 18:5) (Acts 28:23) . Paul was emotionally charged and intellectually armed when he went into the pulpit as he did when he wielded his pen.
A. The Foolishness of Self-Praise (1 Corinthians 10:12-a) . Self-praise is no praise (Proverbs 27:2) "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth, a stranger and not thine own lips." (Proverbs 25:27) , "It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.".
B. The Foolishness of Comparing Self with Others (1 Corinthians 10:12-b) . Promotion comes from God rather than our puny efforts (Psalm 75:6-7) , "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another."). Paul challenges the carnal politics of the false teachers as manipulative, foolish and ultimately condemned by God.
C. Paul Had a Divine Commission to Measure Himself By (1 Corinthians 10:13-15a) .
1. Paul had been set aside by the Holy Spirit at Antioch and commissioned by that church to be a missionary.2. Paul had been equipped by the Holy Spirit with apostolic signs.3. Paul had started the church and was responsible for many of the Corinthian believers' conversions. Paul didn't need to boast of work done by others (1 Corinthians 10:15-a) like the false teachers.
D. Paul's Limitations on Boasting (1 Corinthians 10:15-b-16) . Paul would not boast of the work that had been accomplished since he had been in Corinth nor would he boast by the work done by his disciples who were at Rome or even his enemies (Philippians 1:12-18) . Those who were rivals that truly preached Christ were not looked at by Paul as rivals.
E. All Self-Interested Boasting is Wrong (1 Corinthians 10:17-18) . Paul's point is simple. If I approve of my own ministry that might be good in that I might have a clear conscience. On the other hand, if I use a subjective standard (i.e. what you or perhaps a carnal believer) that will not change God's evaluation of my ministry. You are not the standard, nor am I the standard. Jesus Christ is the standard, as well as, the judge. For me to tell you all that I have done in order to impress you actually and ultimately removes from me the reward that I would have gotten from Jesus Christ (Matt. 6:1-8). I don't serve or give for your appreciation but for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ.
CONCLUSION: My friend, don't be taken in by braggarts or the self- seeking. Certainly don't you engage in "stair-stepping" politics. Don't you dare step on others to promote yourself. God hates this type of selfishness and pride. He resists it. He does want you to be ambitious when it comes to influence and spiritual fruit. He wants you to have the attitude that Paul had. Paul labored more than all the other apostles because of the sense of God's grace in his life. He served God because He loved God and had been forgiven. All who were also busy serving God, Paul looked at as allies rather than rivals. He fought for the Corinthians because he didn't want them subverted by the enemy. It wasn't about ego. It was all about God's grace and the opportunity to serve the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
What about you my friend. Are you serving the Lord? Are you serving Him for His honor and glory? Or is it about you getting recognition from others? If you have engaged in back-biting about others, go to those to whom you have run down and seek forgiveness. Go to those who you have criticized to and make it right.
Maybe you haven't been guilty of backbiting, but you are guilty of boasting. Make a covenant with the Lord that like as Paul, you will not glory, save in the cross of Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14) . Put to death your pride and serve Christ with sincerity and love.
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