Whose commendation are you seeking?

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 

For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:12, 18 (NIV)

Read : 2 Corinthians 10:1-18

Consider: Paul was being maligned by some of his critics as timid (2 Corinthians 10:1) and unimpressive in presence and speaking (10:10).  The church in Corinth was subject to visiting preachers coming to the believers with the soul intention of undermining Paul’s ministry.  Paul’s concern is not about his reputation among the believers in Corinth, but for the spiritual welfare of those in the church.

Paul is willing to confront his weaknesses, as is evident from later in 2 Corinthians where, when speaking of his ‘thorn in the flesh’, he says: But he [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so the Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Paul hits on a common problem which all who are involved in Christian ministry must face at some time – are they being seduced by the world’s view of popularity and success?  There are many faithful preachers who minister to small congregations, over lengthy periods of time, without the trappings of ‘worldly success’.  Worldly success being seen as large and growing congregations and even receiving the accolades of being recognised as ‘successful’.  Some have even been seduced by exposure in the media, arguing that it brings Christ to the masses, but often they become the ‘token’ Christian just to make up the numbers on a discussion panel.  

Paul speaks against those who are puffed up with their own importance, revealing that they have a skewed view of themselves.  They are deluded as: ‘… they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves …’ (10:12).  Paul says that this is ‘not wise’.  I’m sure that, like me, you have encountered some people  in life who have an over-inflated view of themselves and who constantly boast about their achievements.  In 2 Corinthians 10:17, Paul abbreviates a quote from Jeremiah 9:24 when he says: But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord’.  Paul also draws a very clear distinction between those who commend themselves and those whom the Lord commends, when he says: For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends (10:18).  

What are we to learn form today’s passage?  We must be careful how we present ourselves to others and whose opinion of us really matters.   In our Christian service do we measure success by the world’s standards or God’s?.  Additionally, the question for each of us is:  Whose commendation are we seeking?  We must avoid seeking the accolade of the world, allowing it to skew our view of success.  Ultimately we should seek the Lord’s approval for what we are doing to share the gospel with others and to build-up our fellow-believers in their faith.

Am I trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?  Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10).

Pray: Father, search our hearts to bring into the light those areas of service where we seek the approval and commendation of man. May your Holy Spirit work in us to cleanse us, enabling us to honestly say that we only seek your approval and commendation.  Amen

Every blessing

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