Here in America, the presidential campaigns are heating up and there is enough ego to choke on coming from both parties. I guess that is part of the game. Football seasons are cranking up and a great number of athletes are more than willing to tell us how good they are. In the world of Howard Stern, Usain Bolt, LeBron James, and Lady Gaga self-promotion is a must. Then our kids learn this and life imitates art in the hallways of schools across America and on Facebook and Instagram pages.
How do we walk like Christ through the world of ego?
We are headed now into the last big part of 2 Corinthians where the idea of “boasting” is key. In this chapter alone the word “boast” is used seven times in eighteen verses. As we will see more clearly in the next chapter but as has been seen several times already in the Corinthians correspondence, pride was certainly encouraged in the self-important culture of Achaia. A person needed to make a name for themselves, develop the skills and personality traits that were admired, and then they didn’t need to feel bad about making these known. Furthermore, pride always brings about competition, and it seems it was also okay to point out your opponents failures in comparison to your strengths. We can tell that in the Corinthian church there were people present not lacking in ego and quite willing to point out Paul’s inferiority.
Paul states in this chapter that he felt justified in joining in the boasting, but he would boast in what God had done through him, not his own accomplishments.
But when we boast, we don’t go off into flights of fancy; we boast according to the measure of the rule God has given us to measure ourselves by, and that rule includes our work with you! (10:13)
For Paul, the most important things he has ever done, the greatest bragging point is simply the success he has had evangelizing. Yet, Paul also knows that success does not come from his great rhetoric, because he is sometimes lost for words. It is not his charisma and personality; he is too meek and weak for that. It is not some ministry proudly named after himself, because the power of his ministry came from God and the ability to change hearts always comes from God. The Corinthians need not look for Paul’s credentials to be impressed. They only need to look at their own history to realize, they would not be in Christ had Paul not come to town.
In a world of ego, we would do well to boast like Paul did:
Anyone who boasts should boast in the Lord! (10:17b)