Posts Tagged ‘empathy towards others’

Again I say, don’t think that I am a fool to talk like this. But even if you do, listen to me, as you would to a foolish person, while I also boast a little.  Such boasting is not from the Lord, but I am acting like a fool.  And since others boast about their human achievements, I will, too.  After all, you think you are so wise, but you enjoy putting up with fools!  You put up with it when someone enslaves you, takes everything you have, takes advantage of you, takes control of everything, and slaps you in the face.  I’m ashamed to say that we’ve been too “weak” to do that!

But whatever they dare to boast about—I’m talking like a fool again—I dare to boast about it, too.  Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.  Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again.  Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.  I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.  I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.  Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?

If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.  God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying.  When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me.  I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.  2 Corinthians 11:16-33

Well, I cried to the Lord in my prayer today before I opened my bible and then here was the passage I opened to.  Lets see what we get from here and see how we can apply it to our lives. 

I cried today because I know the work that God has cut out for me.  I know what He wants me to do with my life…bear in mind, I don’t know the minute details, but He has shown me several things about where my life is heading.  And as these thoughts crossed my mind in my prayer this morning, I felt so completely inadequate and utterly weak and unable to accomplish the tasks set before me.  It seems impossible for me to get from where I am now to where I know that I will be one day.  But, then, as Paul has said, ‘when I am weak, then I am strong.’  I don’t know how, when or where all the things that the Lord has shown me will take place, but I know that they will come to pass.  So, with that little side note…lets take a look at the scripture and even the notes from my study bible.

One thing that comes to mind immediately is that Paul uses the terms fool and foolish.  He was asking his listeners to hear him just as they would entertain the follies of a foolish person, at least for a time.  Naturally, with that word, I’m sure you came to the same scriptural thought that I did…

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.  Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.  As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.  1 Corinthians 1:26-29

And then in another passage…

Stop deceiving yourselves. If you think you are wise by this world’s standards, you need to become a fool to be truly wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.  1 Corinthians 3:18-19

I wrote once about this back in January of 2008.  God Chose the things the world considers foolish 1 Corinthians 1:27  You might find it interesting reading, but don’t feel obligated.  Paul goes on to recount a list of reasons why he had credibility and authority.  Many times I have read this passage and thought that Paul has a little bit of pride, but today, it struck me a little different.  He says that it is foolishness for him to recount these things, to continue on like he does, and in many ways, it is true, especially from the world’s perspective.  Who cares?  No one really cares about all the trials and hardships that this one man faced, even though he was a child of God. 

Yet, today, I see this passage as a comfort.  Along the same lines of yesterday’s post, I feel like I’ve done more whining and complaining than turning folks to Jesus and His saving power.  Yet, reading this scripture, I realized that it is important to share our trials, sometimes listing them as a laundry list so that other Christians can be strengthened and non-believers can align themselves correctly with the one true God and see that He loves them, even in their hardships because He loves those who are devoted to Him.  Yes, that is foolishness to the world.  absolutely… How about a note or two now?  (Remember, the notes from my bible are in green and my words are always in black.)

Note on verses 22, 23

Paul presented his credentials to counteract the charges that the false teachers were making against him.  He felt foolish boasting like this, but his list of credentials would silence any doubts about his authority.  Paul wanted to keep the Corinthians from slipping under the spell of the false teachers and turning away from the Good News.  Paul also gave a list of his credentials in his letter to the Philippians (see Philippians 3:4-8).

I don’t think I have any authority and I don’t list my credentials either.  But I do try to be transparent, and in that I find that God grants authority to my words because they resonate with my readers.  My sins, my screw-ups and my daily living is nothing to boast of and I certainly couldn’t claim that I’ve lived a life like Paul and endured the kind of pain and torture that he did, yet God gives a certain understandable quality to my posts that I couldn’t relay no matter how hard I tried.  I’m certainly not Paul, but God has and continues to use me just as I am, no matter how foolish I sound or act…God uses me.  I’ve already said much about this before the note, so let’s move on, shall we?

Note on verses 23-29

Paul was angry that the false teachers had impressed and deceived the Corinthians (11:13-15).  Therefore, he had reestablished his credibility and authority by listing the trials he had endured in his service for Christ.  Some of these trials are recorded in the book of Acts (Acts 14:19; 16:22-24).  Because Paul wrote this letter during his third missionary journey (Acts 18:23-21:17), his trials weren’t over.  He would experience yet further difficulties and humiliations for the cause of Christ (see Acts 21:20-22: 22:24-30).  Paul was sacrificing his life for the Good News, something the false teachers would never do.  The trials and hurts we experience for Christ’s sake build our character, demonstrate our faith, and prepare us for further service to the Lord.

There is only one thing that I want to point out in this note and talk about a little bit.  Paul was sacrificing his life for the Good News, something the false teachers would never do.  You don’t know how many times I’ve seen this in my husband and others who say that they are Christians and love the Lord with all their heart.  I can’t say that I’m perfect, so I’m sure that there are times when I fit into this category too.  But, whenever we are unwilling to yield or forego something that we want for the benefit of another, we are like these false teachers.  When we cannot extend even the slightest mercy towards others and give them the benefit of the doubt and help them in some way, then we are not putting God’s kingdom first and are living only for ourselves.  If God’s kingdom reigns in our heart on a daily, even on a minute basis, then we will have tendencies to think of ourselves first, almost always.  When God’s kingdom is in our hearts and His Sovereignty is running our thoughts and hearts, then we will speak and act from that viewpoint and not one from the worlds.  I feel like I’m talking in circles…May God provide clarity to you.

Note on verse 25

Sea travel was not as safe as it is today.  Paul had been shipwrecked three times, and he would face another accident on his voyage to Rome (see Acts 27).  By this time, Paul had probably made at least eight or nine voyages.

Note on verses 28, 29

Not only did Paul face beatings and dangers, he also carried the daily concern for the young churches, worrying that they were staying true to the Good News and free from false teachings and inner strife.  Paul was concerned for individuals in the churches he served.  If God has placed you in a position of leadership and authority, treat people with Paul’s kind of empathy and concern.

I would only add to this note that it doesn’t matter if you have a position of leadership and authority like Paul, but you should treat everyone with Paul’s kind of empathy and concern.  Does it make your heart break when you see a believer fall?  Does it make you cry out to God when you see a person profaning God?  Does it make you want to get up and do something for the Good News when there is so much evil and vile things in this world today?  Do you pray for the unsaved?  Listen up folks, these are your sisters and brothers.  Maybe for their sins they don’t deserve God and heaven, but are we to judge that?  No!  If God loved us enough to send His only Son (John 3:16) while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8), then who are we to say that other sinners aren’t worthy enough for God’s love?  Get with it people, get real!  Jesus came to serve, not be served.  He came to give us an example of how we are to live in this world right now for His kingdom.  We are only passing through, and we should be trying, reaching out to those in darkness and allowing God’s light to shine through us to them so that they can be saved.  We don’t have to be in a special position to do this, we simply have to be in a place where God can use us and He is so powerful that no matter where we are or what we are doing, He can use us for His glory.  Never forget that!

(Sorry for that little rant there…I’ll step down from my soap box now…)

Note on verses 32, 33

King Aretas, king of the Nabateans (Edomites) from 9 B.C. to A.D. 40, had appointed a governor to oversee the Nabatean segment of the population in Damascus.  Somehow the Jews in Damascus had been able to enlist this governor to help them try to capture Paul (see Acts 9:22-25).  Paul gave a “for instance” here, describing his escape from Damascus in a basket lowered from a window in the city wall.  Paul recounted this incident to show what he had endured for Christ.  The false teachers couldn’t make such claims.

The only thing I have here is that we shouldn’t limit false teachings to false teachers.  The devil is a sneaky and vile creature.  He can use even the most devout brothers and sisters that you know for his purposes.  That is why it is imperative to us as believers to ‘study to show ourselves approved.’ (KJV, but the NLT says this…) Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15  In other words, we are to ‘rightly divide the Word of truth,’ (again the KJV).  The only way to do this is to read the Word ourselves and see if what we have heard is, in fact, what is in the scriptures.  I could say all kinds of things, but maybe not get a few things quite right.  Then it is not only your responsibility to test what I say against the scripture, but also you must tell me where I have been mislead.  I welcome comments, but all to often, with the exception of my normal readers, I don’t get too many comments.  So, I trust in the Lord that whatever I say, He can help my readers understand.  I know that He does.  I also know that if I say something that isn’t quite right, God will help those that get it and help them to find the real scriptural truth.  My God is greater than any foible that I could possibly find myself in.  Thank goodness for that!

Okay, I’m on another soapbox…I’ll just simply close for today.  God is Sovereign!  That is a most magnificent thought!  Besides Christ shedding His blood and atoning for my sins, which is the most significant thing, I love the knowledge and comfort that the thought of God is sovereign brings to me and my wellbeing.

Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24  I give my body to You because of all You have done for me.  Let my body be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind You will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship You.  I won’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but I will let You transform me into a new person by changing the way I think.  Then I will learn to know Your will for me, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2  Amen.

May God provide the increase.


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