NT Fire Starters – Day 254: 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
READ: 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
THINK: In order for people to understand, you typically need to speak their language. In this passage, Paul continues to talk from an admittedly unspiritual and somewhat worldly perspective. He was trying to expose the petty, foolish and ungodly attitudes and behaviors of a few in the Corinthian church–particularly those who were being misled by selfish messengers. Paul’s message had credibility because he backed it up with devotion to God, love for the people, and personal sacrifice that exceeded anything his opponents could claim.
RESPOND: Why is Paul speaking from a foolish or worldly perspective (vv. 16-21)? What is he trying to expose about the behavior of some of the Corinthians? How was Paul’s behavior toward the Corinthians different from those who were opposing and slandering him? In what ways had Paul demonstrated his devotion to Christ and to the Corinthian church? (See 11:23 note.) What specific sufferings had Paul endured, and what do they reveal about his character and determination? What do they reveal about how he depended on and identified with Jesus? What things caused Paul particular grief? In what ways does his attitude toward God, sin and the church serve as an example to all who truly desire to follow and please Christ? How would you have felt if you had endured what Paul did, yet still faced rejection from people whom you loved and served? How do Paul’s sacrifices and hardships challenge and inspire you? How do they provide encouragement and hope? In what ways did Paul empathize with other believers (v. 29), and how does this serve as an example to you?
PRAY: Ask God for strength, determination and devotion to endure whatever hardships are necessary to influence others for Him. Pray that you’ll learn to depend more fully on God through these things and that you will gain a greater sense of His compassionate heart for people.
ACT: Consider some of the difficulties you currently face, particularly if they stem from devotion to Christ. Ask God to reveal what He wants you to learn in each situation and how you can use your circumstances to honor Him and help others. Read or review the article on The Suffering of the Righteous, p. 638, to refresh your insight on common questions such as, ” How can a loving God allow suffering?” and “Why do bad things happen to good people?”.