Summary: In this sermon we learns some lessons about the way leaders and members are supposed to conduct themselves in the church.
A. The story is told of a mother who had her 18 month-old son strapped in a child-carrying backpack on her back.
1. She was rushing to catch the bus and stumbled and fell down an entire flight of stairs (13 to be exact).
2. She was bruised, bleeding and had torn her clothes, but her main concern was for her child.
3. Her fears and concerns were alleviated, though, when from behind her, she heard a gleeful giggle followed by, “Again! Do again!”
B. What are you concerned about?
1. There certainly is a lot that we can be concerned about, isn’t there?
2. There is so much going on in our world: volcanoes, earthquakes, oil spills, global warming, swine flu, cancer, gas prices, health care bills, terrorists, illegal immigrants, national debt, moral decline, nuclear destruction, obesity, and identity theft – how’s that for a short list?
C. So what can we do about our concerns?
1. As you know, one of my favorite comics is the old Peanuts cartoon.
2. One episode showed Linus stick his head out the door at wintertime and called to his sister Lucy, “Mom said to tell you it’s time to come in.”
3. Standing next to her snowman Lucy says, “Rats.” As she turns to go in she says, “Goodnight friend, I’ll see you in the morning.”
4. Standing at the front door Lucy again turns to her snowman saying, “Goodnight!”
5. Once inside Lucy takes off her coat and gloves as Linus watches TV in the background; going over to the window she looks out at her snowman friend and says, “I’m so concerned for my snowman; I hate to see him stand out in the yard alone all night.”
6. Can you guess what happens next? The next picture shows Linus sighing with a long frown on his face as he stands out in the cold next to Lucy’s snowman friend.
D. Paul was very concerned about the church in Corinth, and rather than send someone else, Paul decided it was time for him to go to Corinth and deal with the situation in person.
1. As we return to 2 Corinthians 12 today to finish the chapter, we realize that Paul is nearing the end of this letter.
2. As the letter is coming to an end, so is Paul’s defense of himself and his ministry.
3. The verses we will examine today read like the words of a weary man who has put forth some tremendous effort in the conflict he has endured.
4. Once again, Paul speaks with distaste of this whole wretched business of self-justification.
5. Ultimately, Paul’s concern was not for himself, but for the Gospel and the Church.
6. Let’s work our way through the text and see what lessons we can learn.
I. Understanding the Word
A. Look at verses 11 and 12: I 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. (2 Cor. 12:11-12)
1. Paul began with a bit of a scolding – the Corinthians should have been boasting about him, instead of forcing him to boast about himself.
2. Was Paul inferior to these “super-apostles”? Of course not!
3. The Corinthians had seen Paul in action – in fact, they owed their very souls to him and his ministry.
4. He had done miraculous signs among them that proved his apostleship.
5. And he had persevered in his ministry at Corinth in spite of external persecution and internal problems.
6. They really should have known better, and this was surely part of what hurt Paul most deeply.
B. In verse 13, Paul turns again to subtle irony: 13How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! (2 Cor. 12:13)
1. It must have infuriated the Corinthians that Paul would accept nothing from them, for again and again he returns to that charge.
2. Paul was never a financial burden to the Corinthians. It was an injustice for which he playfully pled forgiveness!
C. Let’s read verses 14 and 15: Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?
1. Paul was preparing them for his third visit. (2 Cor. 12:14-15)