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medal of commendation December 1 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 2Corinthians 2:12- 7:3

Commendation

We all want to be valued for our character and our deeds. What do we do when we feel disrespected or undervalued? Do we need to toot our own horn to get some attention? Paul, the author of the letter to the Corinthians, sometimes felt disrespected and devalued even though he was an apostle. What did he do?

Apparently, the Corinthians (citizens from the city of Corinth in first century Turkey) had some association with false prophets or teachers who served for material gains. Paul assured them that the motive for his ministry was not like that. He said, “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God,” (2 Corinthians 2:17, NIV). Why do we serve God and people? Is it primarily to reap material benefits or to carry out the will of the God? Do people know that our focus is to fulfill the will of God and to serve them? We must work with people in honesty and integrity and do everything with their best interests at heart.

Paul loathed boasting. He believed the “proof” of his ministry “was in the pudding,” to use a colloquial saying. In other words the proof of their ministry was in the results. Paul said,

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts, (2 Corinthians 3:1-3, NIV).

What proof do we have of the value of our contributions? Are people being changed for their good by following our example or teaching?

Paul was bold in his speech, but some people interpreted his boldness as arrogance. Paul said his speech was bold, not because of his confidence in himself, but because of the confidence in the message God gave him to deliver, a life-changing, glorious message (3:6,12). What impression do we leave with people; that our confidence is in ourselves or in God and fulfilling his will? Paul’s focus was not on himself. He said, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake,” (2Corinthians 4:5, NIV).

When we read all the things Paul suffered to bring the gospel to people without much recognition or praise, we might want to ask, “Paul, how did you do it? Didn’t you get discouraged and want to quit?” We might want to ask him that because there are times of discouragement in our lives when we wonder if we are making any progress. Are the work and pain and disrespect worth it? Paul faced this too. We can’t always change others so we must work on our own attitudes. Paul said,

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God, (2 Corinthians 4:1-2, NIV).

Paul’s answer was that it was through God’s mercy that he gave him this ministry. Before he was converted he was a very religious and zealous Jew, a Pharisee, but he was spiritually lost. After he was converted, though he suffered and was not always respected, he refused to lose heart. It is in times of discouragement that we, too, must remind ourselves that God gives us ministries to fulfill, whether that means a church ministry or family ministry, or even a ministry at our work place. We must counsel ourselves not to lose heart but keep maintaining good character and deeds. Galatians 6:9 exhorts us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” (NIV).

Paul suffered much for the gospel ministry. He and his companions were constantly persecuted and given over to death. He did not count his life dear to himself, however; he knew that if his earthly tent (meaning “body”) were destroyed he would have a new body and be in the presence of Christ (2Corinthians 5:1). By God’s grace Paul and his companions survived and carried on the ministry for the sake of the Corinthian believers and others. His goal and that of his companions was to please God by their lives or their deaths. They knew that all Christians will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an answer for every deed on this earth, whether good or bad, useful or useless (5:10), and so they lived their lives to please Him. For this reason Paul and his companions tried to persuade men to repent and live for God. They viewed their ministry as one of reconciliation. They were ambassadors of Christ to try to reconcile people’s relationships to God so that they might have eternal life. What is God's mission for our lives? Are we fulfilling it? How do we view our lives?

Inspite of all that Paul and his companions suffered and the love he showed them, the Corinthians were still unsure about him. They withdrew from Paul. After explaining his mission and ministry from the Lord, Paul pleaded with the Corinthians not to withdraw but to open up their hearts wide and accept him. It is unfortunate that sometimes we have to remind people what we have done for them and ask for their support, but it is nevertheless true. People do forget. People can be inconsiderate and disrespectful and even loath what is good for them. You may recall that even God had this problem with Israel as recorded frequently in the Old Testament books of the Bible.

God was longsuffering with the Israelites, and God is longsuffering with us as well. Have we forgotten the good that God has brought us through our parents, teachers, pastors or friends? We, too, need reminders of God’s grace and providence in our lives, and we need to be grateful.

Lessons to live by: How do we commend ourselves?

  • We must work with people in honesty and integrity and do everything with their best interests at heart. Our focus is to carry out the will of the Lord, not to please ourselves. Let us be servants not lords.
  • We will be rewarded for fulfilling God’s will if we seek to please him and persevere in good character and deeds.
  • Because people are forgetful, occasionally, we may need to recount the acts of service that we have done for their benefit, as God sometimes does with us. We may also need to ask for their support.
  • Let’s be grateful for God’s grace in our lives and those who are ministering to us.
  • Do you want to experience God's saving grace in your life? He can give you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

Today’s memory verse: 2Corinthians 5:9-10

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (NIV)

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