Pride and Sarcasm – 6-22-22

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Second Corinthians chapter 11 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Concern for Their Faithfulness

11 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the [a]simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

Paul and False Apostles

For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have [b]been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.

Did I commit sin in [c]humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Reluctant Boasting

16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little. 17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. 19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! 20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. 21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also.

Suffering for Christ

22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my [d]infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 11:3 NU adds and purity
  2. 2 Corinthians 11:6 NU omits been
  3. 2 Corinthians 11:7 putting myself down
  4. 2 Corinthians 11:30 weakness

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Acts 4:12-

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

Today’s reading will be a struggle of you do not know that Paul has a VERY sarcastic and dry sense of humor. Paul calls himself a fool, and foolish false prophets and teachers as not while making a logical argument that HE is not the fool AND that they are. All while tenderly, speaking as a father to his daughter about staying pure for her groom, to whom he has betrothed her.  In context his sarcasm juxtapose to his tender heart is beautifully powerful.

Yesterday’s reading flowed from the offering message to the attack from the enemy that is sure to follow if you obey – which lead him back to the attacks on him and his ministry that he must defend. So now he show’s why he is passionately fighting for their affections. Through it we see how God is also parental and fighting for our affections while preparing us for the coming of our groom.

Today also includes one of the few places that Paul lists his sufferings for Christ – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and jump right in:

1 Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me.”

On social media and blogs it is often difficult for sarcasm to come across – it is true in any written word. So, Paul comes right out and says – humor me while I get sarcastic about this situation.
I am sure Paul can see the irony that he founded that church and now they question him. It really is like a teen who is moving out into young adulthood and pressing to be independent while still just a hair to immature to.

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

Simple and beautiful – I love you like a father loves his daughter, so I am just looking out for your well-being. On top of it, here is a spiritual principle – YOU ARE CHRIST’S BRIDE! 

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

WE ALL must be EVER so careful not to be deceived. I have said it a million times and so has Paul and so did Jesus. I know I used to and I think it is common to read the story of Eve and think, I wouldn’t fall for a talking snake, especially when her husband was right there next to her. Instead of recognizing a simple truth, we complicate it with our pride and ‘I’m better than Eve’ mindset. Neither of us is smarter or better than Eve or Adam. The satan has been lying, manipulating and leading beings away from God since LONG before humans ever existed. We buy his lie that he isn’t that good at manipulating – and pridefully resist God’s truth, which is found in God passing along the story of how man fell. Man fell, because the enemy is very good at deception.

For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!”

Jesus said the end times shall be marked by MANY preaching a Jesus without suffering, without power, with self-help instead of Jesus’s intercession, with humanism and without chastity and purity.
Part of me wishes you experience falling for a false teacher, processing the revelation that it was a false teacher and realizing exactly HOW easily we can be deceived. AND that even the false teacher can be deceived that he is indeed a false teacher. See how complicated flesh makes all of this?!
But I’d rather you never fell for it as the season is late and time is short – I pray the Lord keep you.
But you will NOT be kept without the humility of knowing you can be deceived. You can be. So guard against it.

So Paul compares himself to them so we can see the difference. The original reader would have seen this as just that, a lesson using compare and contrast. In those days it was very improper to use yourself as an example, a protocol which Paul forsakes many times because it is better to use himself (considered embarrassing at the time) than to embarrass someone else. You and I, however, due to our culture, may see this as a humble brag. In our culture that is a false humility in order to brag on your pride without looking like the prideful jerk that you are.
It is a difficult line to walk, I know. I often use myself as the example and pray you, the readers, do not find me prideful, and pray I do not be deceived into pride. But to explain things we need to find relatable examples, and pulling from our own lessons is the easiest – without calling someone else out.
I had a friend get offended, thinking I used them as an example (changing small details to spare them the embarrassment) in this blog – but actually, when I wrote it, I was thinking of someone else. So, I see why Paul uses himself.

For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.”

Not inferior to most eminent apostles?! Yea, this certainly sound prideful. But in truth, we must call this statement sarcasm. Paul was well schooled and educated. He spoke Hebrew and Greek and took all the classes for both a Greek student and Hebrew school to become a Pharisee – he was also educated on writing and speaking to audiences. AND he was trained in a trade as well. So He is neither untrained nor superior to anyone God called. God uniquely qualifies those He calls.

Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?”

And verse 7 here would be the punch line. You know when someone is being sarcastic and then there is the line that punches home the point. Basically – what we get from this is Paul saying: if I came to you like those false teachers requiring money, would that be better?

I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you.”

Let us recall the birth of this church – Paul’s second missionary journey where he was chased from city to city by Pharisees who were trying to get Paul killed. Paul had to flee Berea without his team to the coast – where he was chased onto a boat and traveled to Athens. Paul was tired, without his team, without his money and resources (and waiting for them to come) Paul tried something new and failed to minister in Athens (later saying don’t do that, it was awful) and went to Corinth to work his trade and get some money. There he met and stayed with another in his trade who was a believer and they gathered other believers and made converts and started a church.
Paul came to Corinth is the MOST humble and broken way that God could make happen, and wow, didn’t God know that was what these people needed! It was with offerings and money from other churches and his other sources of funds that Paul’s team was able to come and join him and really build this church. So Paul robbed from others to minister to them at Corinth.
It’s a saying – Paul did not rob anyone. They gave Paul money. But Paul did not use it to get back to them, Paul used it to build a church in Corinth.
So Paul was poor and needy when he arrived:

And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.”

Paul earned his own money elsewhere – not from his own child/church. And he intends to never take anything from them.
Why are they so hung up on the money? Even, right from the beginning as we see Paul being sensitive to it all along, but taking money from other churches. You see, the reason they are offended with Paul, and money (offerings), and the enemy’s attacks, and this pride that is still evident and dividing this church are all intertwined with these false teacher who came in and began corrupting them along with the extremely liberal, fleshy city’s influence on its occupants. So Paul has tried to talk on each point separate – but as they are tied up together Paul must also address that knot.

10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!”

Paul again presents all the GOOD things he has said about these people as proof of his love, with God as his witness (but he says it in typical Pauline sarcasm).

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.”

As long as Paul is telling everyone the truth – no one else can come in and lie. As long as Paul is bragging: hey I started this amazing church in Corinth if you are in the area, check it out! Then no one else can say they started it or that it is not amazing. Apparently some of these false teachers are really trying to muscle in on this church. 

13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.”

Ok, we understand there is a bad guy and a good guy and we are n team good guy in the spirit. Right? But what in all flesh would convince a human to work as a false teacher?
I am so glad you asked!
Some are deceived, they learned the doctrine wrong and teach others incorrectly – so take all teachings back to the Bible and prayer and ask God to reveal false teachers. The ones who are deceived will also warn you to do this, because they believe they are right and you will find no discrepancy. Check for yourself – Go ahead and check me as well. Pray and ask God; He will direct you to where to be taught.

I pray diligently that I am not deceived, I seek God for each of these posts. I know I do not answer to you – but to God, and that is a fearful thing. I do my best.
Also – I am human, I have had it wrong before and said so. I will be wrong again and issue another correction, I am sure of it! Being wrong occasionally is not a false prophet/teacher. Know the difference and pray for and extend grace to those who are willing to serve the Lord. 

So what does a person get from faking it. People seem to ‘follow’ certain pastors and evangelists instead of God – So there is a cult like fame to the leadership position in some churches (back in the first century as well as today)! That status and fame is enough for some people.
But earlier in this book Paul called these fakers, “peddlers of the gospel”. They were in it for the offerings. What is a shame is that money was offered to GOD and not to them and both God and man expect them to steward God’s money – woe to them who steal from God. Stealing the sheep and the funds. Woe. 

14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

Those who are deceive and those who know they are fakers, but are in it for fame and easy money – they will have their reward – God is just and justice will be served in the end.

16 I say again, let no one think me a fool. If otherwise, at least receive me as a fool, that I also may boast a little.”

As Paul pours out from his heart, his personality and sarcasm really show. I have a similar sense of humor and really enjoy it. But as we get to the heart of the seriousness of this – the sarcasm is dropped – Paul is not a fool. The complaints from the Corinthians are: this tree and that tree and the other tree and they do not seem to see the forest through the trees – but Paul’s got their number and He is teling them there is a forest, a bigger picture.

17 What I speak, I speak not according to the Lord, but as it were, foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. 18 Seeing that many boast according to the flesh, I also will boast. 19 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise!”

Here is the big picture – you call me a fool, but you are acting foolish. You think you’re so smart, why are you falling for this? you want me to behave like them and give you my qualifications (because the fact that I founded your church, and you exist, isn’t enough) – ok…

Buckle up, cause Paul is breaking loose and taking us on a ride!

20 For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.”

And right out of the gate – OUCH!  Bondage, devoured, robbed, more proud than these Corinthians and strikes your face (dishonor).  Yep – Paul already proved his humility and now Paul pulls the mask off these fakers and shows us who they are! Paul reveals how they have taken advantage of them.
This is not a physical bondage – no one is in chains. It is spiritual. Same with the rest – it is a spiritual destruction – and Paul is pulling back the curtain to expose the spirit world.

As the Word of the Lord is anointed to BREAK bondages and strongholds and reveal truth – I pray, right now in the name of Jesus that God will give you revelation of any false preachers you may be following. I pray, Lord that you give discernment to us, so we may know and not be deceived. NOT for us to call them out, we are not heresy hunters, but so we can guard and protect ourselves and love one.

21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold—I speak foolishly—I am bold also.”

Paul is too weak to take advantage of people, which is sarcasm, because it is not a matter of weakness to do what is right. But people did think Paul was too weak, while at the same time complained his letters were too bold – Paul is pointing out the foolishness here.

But since they want to compare – Paul hits them with it. Here is how God uniquely qualified Paul for the ministry:

22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.”

Bam! Compared to the false prophets of the time, Paul certainly stands out.  He they want boasting Paul will boast on infirmity! Again this is NO humble-brag. Paul’s sarcasm leaps from the page as Paul tries to gentle remind us that serving God is NOT for the weak, it is dangerous, it means dyeing to self, it mean serving, it means we give ourselves completely to God and God has the right to tell HIS story through us any way He wants – including through: shipwrecks, perils, robbings, beatings, almost death, hunger and abundance.

God used these things to uniquely qualify Paul. As I have struggled lately, the cried in my late night prayers when I am tired and weak are “Why God?!” And “Help”. Yet my struggles are NOTHING compared to Paul, or God for that matter. And I know it is for a season, and I know it will build character if I respond correctly dyeing to flesh and surrendering to His will.
I am weak and human – just like you. I have no pride to hold my head high and imply it is a cake walk. When asked how I am doing, I must speak faith and truth – I am in the Lord’s hands. But it isn’t easy. This is not humble brag.

I have met those types – they are always saying they fast, but I never see them refrain from food. They always say they’ve had struggles and their hands are always out – yet I have not seen them work. So I refuse to ask anyone for help BUT my Father. Because I must stand as Paul stood WITHOUT a humble-brag, but in honesty before God.

31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.”

Isn’t that the craziest? Some thought Paul was lying. Sadly, I have been accused of it myself. So listen, I am not perfect, I have my struggles, as I have been forthright about. I also have sin struggles, like Paul says, we sometimes slip up. I know I do not speak of them often, because what God is working on me with and is a sin to me, may not be a sin to you. But YES I am tempted. God gives us an out and the ability to walk away and usually I am successful (but I also ate half a pumpkin cake in one sitting and beat myself up over it for a few days – I am still an imperfect human).

32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.”

And Paul concludes with the first time he had to flee for his life.

2000 years after, Christians have a different perspective. Not only do we see it as a humble-brag (which is a negative prideful thing) – many also see this as permission to humble-bag. So, let’s try to understand the differences:

Your pastor is using an example of struggle from his life, and giving all glory to God – like Paul saying the shipwreck built character and God got the Glory or me saying here is my struggle and work through this with me to see God glorified. Is that a humble-brag sign of pride? No.

Your pastor speaks of a tumultuous event and he is the hero and not God. That is a prideful humble-brag.

Random person not teaching a lesson or testifying what God is doing in their life, tells you how much they have suffered for Christ. No Glory to Christ, just suffering. That is a prideful humble-brag.

Random person not teaching – just testifying tells of their struggles, focuses on God’s answers and outcome and how you too can be transformed. That is a witness, who will lead many to Christ.

If you are a teacher / preacher – use your examples to teach others how to glorify God in their struggles.

If you are not – then use your experience to point to Christ as a witness – and ALWAYS end with a prayer for them or lead them in the salvation prayer or both.

Paul did not have a victim mentality or mindset – and I am tired of people who are holier than everyone else because they struggled. And if your struggle was just a mild discomfort, do not show up to share in someone’s suffering who was beaten bloody and say you know how they feel.
Paul did not have a poor man’s mentality or a poverty mindset. Paul usually had sufficient funds, until separated from his team, or shipwrecked and lost his purse at sea, or robbed. And then God blessed Paul quickly with the abundance needed for Him to do the work and give to those in need and to support the whole team. Paul was not a pauper.
SO – if you want to be like Paul as Paul was striving to be like Christ: Both worked hard for money, neither had a free ride, both had supporters, both had people they needed to support, both were beaten, and bloodied – you sure you want to be like them? Like them can brag on their infirmities – but they also needed to literally live through them in order to brag.

Some of you know. Some of you have as little or less food than I have. How can we have computers or phone to access the internet but not enough to eat? With gas shortages and famines and the USA causing their own famine – we are all about to find out. Some of you haven’t even been here in a while nor will you read this post – because your nation has banned you from accessing foreign posts – and soon will be controlling your viewing even more. Even Canada is talking about limiting global internet access – quickly becoming like China. The enemy has created the perfect storm and God is still shaking His people in judgement and in trials to prepare them. It is a difficult time.

God has warned us to prepare us. These lessons about Paul’s hardships are to prepare us. We will be able to brag on our hard times someday IN THE GLORY OF GOD. And in it, we will have peace, abundance in God, and hope. You’ll see.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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