The Remarkable Paradox
A daily devotion for September 27th
11I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-apostles," even though I am nothing. 12The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance. 13How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!
For I am not in the least inferior to thesuper apostles,even though I am nothing. (2 Corinthians 12:11b)
Hidden in verse 11 is a remarkable paradox that is possible only for those who are true servants of Christ. Notice how Paul puts it:
I am not in the least inferior, he says; and then in the next phrase,
even though I am nothing. One statement is,
I am the equal of anybody; I am not inferior at all to these superlative apostles; I have everything they have and more, while at the same time he can say,
yet I am nothing. That is the mark of a true servant of Christ: the ability to say both of those things and for both of them to be equally true. When Paul says,
I am not inferior, he means,
Everything I am in Christ, everything that Christ can do through me, makes me equal to anything they can do.
This is the attitude that all Christians ought to come to about themselves:
I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).
If God tells me to do something, I can do it. I can obey His word, I can follow His precepts. I can do what He asks. There is a ringing note of confidence because you are not relying on yourself, but on Christ. At the same time the apostle could add,
Relying on myself, I am nothing. All my abilities, my gifts, and my natural talents won't get me anywhere in God's sight. They are impressive to other people, and I could fool a lot of people this way, but they are not at all impressive in the eyes of God.
I wish I could get a lot more Christians talking this way today, willing to say,
if Christ tells me to do something or to be something, then there is no limit to my ability to do or be it, because He will provide the power. But in myself, trying to do anything depending on my gifts, I will accomplish nothing of any value in God's sight. Now that is the mark of a true servant of Christ! One of the ways you can test the false apostles of our day is to listen carefully to what they say about themselves. Do they claim anything is coming from them? Do they claim to be remarkable people of remarkable ability, or are they talking about the power coming from Christ? That is the big difference. By this, these Corinthians should have recognized Paul.
Lord, thank You that even though I add nothing, I can do all things through Christ.
Life Application: Do we have growing confidence in the power and Presence of Christ in us, so that self-esteem is becoming a non-issue?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.