2 Corinthians 11:21b-28
What anyone else dares to boast about-I am speaking as a fool-I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrew? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I Have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and day in open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I facedaily pressure for my concern for all the churches. (NIV)
A few years ago I was a member of a civic organization for community improvement that met home to home. Although we enjoyed the comfort of the home meetings we decided it was in our best interest to have a building to centralize our activities and share with the community. We had very little money, but we did have a lot of commitment to our goal of improving our community.
The plan to reach our building goal was simple. After finding a fix-up building we could afford to purchase, each person committed a small amount of monthly cash to cover expenses and improvement, and a lot of physical effort to work on those improvements. The project was completed due to the entire group’s commitment to the sacrifice of a little money and a lot of time. So, as evidence of their sacrifice, whenever community activities were held in the building, the group always boasted by sharing their story of reaching their goal with the plan of little money and a large amount of time sacrificed.
Paul in his message to the Church of Corinth shows that he loved the people of Corinth and all the cities in which he had established churches. It was his love that encouraged his sacrifices, which guided him on the missions to help them to understand their salvation through Christ.
His love produced the commitment of continuing on, in spite of him (Paul) experiencing suffering and sacrifice. But Paul also lovingly boasted of his suffering to quiet false preaches and teachers of the day. He showed his record of sacrifice and commitment and in a way asked them to, “show me your sacrifice”.
If Paul were to issue this challenge to you, where would you stand? Would you have more talk than sacrificial time? Could you show him suffering and sacrifice or little effort and little accomplishment for Christ? Paul’s method is not about boasting in self accolades, but most certainly one of self-inventory.
If we take our self inventory, can Christ depend on us to go the extra mile? Can Christ depend on us to get His job accomplished by putting in more time and effort for others and not self? If Christ asked you, “show me you sacrifice”, what would you have to show?