2 Corinthians 11:19 - 12:9 Selected verses:

“For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness…

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

St. Paul was a missionary, and he established churches throughout the Mediterranean region. After he founded the church in Corinth, a group of preachers moved into town who took over. They disparaged Paul and his coworkers. They claimed that they were better, wiser, and more worthy. They even abused the congregation, and the congregation went along with it!

In 2 Corinthians 11:19 - 12:9, Paul contrasts his ministry with that of the interlopers, whom Paul calls “Super Apostles.” Super apostles make the ministry about themselves, about personal glory, about their charisma, about their personal wealth. They make the ministry about the man.

But when the man looms large, God must be small. When the man is small, God can be large.

Paul’s ministry pointed only to Christ. He didn’t burden the Corinthians. He didn’t demand payment. He didn’t brag about his accomplishments for the church. He just preached Christ.

We, too, must beware preachers who make ministry about themselves. In this sermon, you will hear about how pastors can make the ministry about their glory by

  • building a ministry on their personality or charisma

  • watering down God’s word

  • by doing only the work that gives glory and not the real work of ministry