NT Aug. 9-13

August 9 — 2 Corinthians 8 — Examples.  Three examples stood out to me as I read this chapter.  First was the Macedonian churches’ example of giving to the church in Corinth.  Paul was urging the Corinthians to give to the collection for the poor Christians in Judea and he used the generosity of the Macedonians as a good example to follow (vv. 1-7).  The second example was on the broader subject of unselfish generosity—Jesus’ sacrificial life He lived, “so that you by his poverty might become rich” (v. 9).  The last example was Paul’s care, not only to protect the donated money but also to protect his reputation as one who handled contributions honestly (vv. 16-24).  He asked the contributing churches to send trusted men along with him to deliver the gift.  In addition to Paul and Titus, this team included an anonymous “brother … famous … for his preaching” (v. 18) who was “our brother … tested and found earnest” (v. 22).  You are also being an example to others whether your name will be remembered for history or not.  People are watching you and they take note of your words, attitudes, and actions.

August 10 — 2 Corinthians 9 — Generous Attitudes and Benefits.  Giving doesn’t come naturally for us, as we demonstrated as toddlers with our “gimme” demands.  Selfishness is natural for us.  On the other end of the spectrum is God, who is infinitely unselfish.  Paul closed this chapter with an appreciation for that divine characteristic: “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (v. 15).  When we come to God in faith, He changes us and gives us the ability and desire to be generous.  Our giving attitudes can now be “willing” (v. 5), “cheerful” (v. 7), and “generous” (v. 11).  There are also many benefits resulting from giving generously.  One of them is that if we “sow bountifully” in giving, God will cause us to “reap bountifully” (v. 6).  But God’s purpose for returning abundance to us is surprising.  It is not to spend it on ourselves in selfish and lavish living but it is “so that … you may abound in every good work” (v. 8).  God rewards our generosity by giving us more to give!  Notice the purpose: He will “multiply your seed for sowing” (v. 10).

August 11 — 2 Corinthians 10 — Boasting Focus.  There were still a few people of influence in the Corinthian church who were opposing Paul and his ministry.  They suspected Paul “of walking according to the flesh” (v. 2).  They said that although he was a “strong” writer, he was a “no account” speaker (v. 10).  Their apparent purpose was to make themselves look better by making Paul look worse.  But when people “compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (v. 12).  That is true also for us.  Normally we either compare ourselves critically with others to elevate ourselves or we compare with envy, which makes us feel inferior and useless.  Our focus is wrong when it is on people instead of on God.  “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (v. 17, cf. Jer. 9:24).  When you catch yourself being critical or envious of someone, use it as a reminder to think about some great aspect of who God is, and praise Him for it.

August 12 — 2 Corinthians 11 — Suffering Servant.  The Jewish false teachers were still bothering the church at Corinth and were apparently exerting abusive leadership, taking advantage of the believers and even striking them in the face (v. 20).  Paul referred to them as “false apostles … deceitful … disguising themselves” (v. 13) and suggested that they were servants of Satan (v. 15).  In contrast, Paul had humbled

himself and came to the Corinthians and “… preached free of charge … So I refrained … from burdening you” (vv. 7, 9).  He wrote later to Timothy, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).  To emphasize the contrast between the pampered false teachers visiting Corinth, Paul rather apologetically summarized a long list of ways in which he had suffered in bringing the gospel to unbelievers (vv. 23-28), many not even mentioned in the book of Acts.

August 13 — 2 Corinthians 12 — Accepting Weakness.  Paul doesn’t identify his “thorn … in the flesh” (v. 7), although many have since speculated about it.  We do know that it was something he didn’t want because three times he begged the Lord to take it away (v. 8).  God’s answer was probably something we wouldn’t want to hear: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (v. 9).  We don’t like or want personal weakness of any kind.  God had a purpose in Paul’s weakness, which was to demonstrate His power.  Sometimes God’s purpose requires our suffering.  So, did Paul go off to pout like we sometimes do?  No, he became willing to accept his weakness and concluded in his own words, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (v. 10).  He saw the value of allowing God to demonstrate His power through his own weakness.  Most of us have a significant weakness right now.  Perhaps God’s desire is to use that for His good purpose.  Will we accept His grace to endure it willingly?

Published by abibleread

This website honors the Bible as the inspired Word of God through which God speaks to us as we read and study it.

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