The True Evaluation
A daily devotion for September 22nd
7You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he. 8For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing." 11Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
12We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. 14We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, 16so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man's territory. 17But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." 18For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
But,Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)
Whenever anybody boasts, Paul says, it is to be in what the Lord has done. How that wipes out with one stroke all the proud evaluations you see people making of their own ministries! You never hear that from Paul. In the very next section he will tell us some of the things that happened in his ministry, but he does it with the most abject apologies. He is distressed that he has to talk about what he has done. He only defends his ministry because that is the kind of argument the Corinthians have been listening to from false teachers, and they seem to think it is important. A brief example of Paul's approach occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:10, where he says this about himself:
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Some may think this sounds like boasting. But notice what Paul says:
Yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Paul always recognizes that the only thing that counts is what Christ does in him, not what he does for Christ. I have sometimes seen on the wall of Christian homes a little plaque that says,
Only one life, 'twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last.
That sounds very pious, and it certainly has a germ of truth about it, but it always bothers me because I do not think it is very accurately expressed. What I would like to see is,
Only one life, 'twill soon be past.
Only what Christ does through me will last.
But that doesn't have the right meter, you say. It doesn't, but it has the right theology, and that is what I am interested in. It is not what I do for Him that makes any difference at all. It is what He does through me. It is what I expect Him to do and what He promises to do that counts. Therefore, the true evaluation of a ministry is to look back and say,
Well, thank God for what happened. But I didn't do it. God did it through me. I am grateful for the privilege of having the opportunity to be an instrument in His hands. That is true evaluation.
Lord, let me be content to labor at what You have given me to do, knowing that the fruit and the harvest will be of Your making and not mine.
Life Application: Do we resort to measuring and comparing ourselves with others? Are we finding contentment in simply serving as Christ's own beloved one?
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