Summary: The question answered in this passage is what is the standard or basis by which we can determine whether Paul or we or anyone measures up?
Somewhere between his 2nd and 3rd missionary journey false teachers had entered the city of Corinth and had turned the hearts of the people against Paul
Launched a campaign seeking to undermine Paul’s ministry and to steal the flock in Corinth.
These false teachers had said a lot of things about Paul
You could put it this way: Paul didn’t measure up!
The question answered in this passage is what is the standard or basis by which we can determine whether Paul or we or anyone measures up?
7 You are looking at things as they are outwardly.
What OT event does this statement remind you of?
David and his brothers before Samuel.(1 Sam 16)
10 Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these." 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are these all the children ?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep." Then Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here."
We have a tendency to look on the outside:
We can see some pretty religious people and think they have it right.
We can hear those who know a lot of the Bible and think they understand God.
We can see some very committed people and think they are on track with God.
THOSE ARE NOT THE STANDARDS GOD MEASURES BY.
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
A church may appear to have it right but Jesus’ message to the church in Laodicea shows that may not be true. We might think that things like good health, a strong bank account or an absence of problems, trials or persecution are an evidence of God’s blessing but the Bible says we would be wrong.
GOD SEES THE HEART and measures by it’s condition before Him.
THERE IS A WRONG WAY TO MEASURE A PERSON:
If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ's, so also are we.
8 For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame, 9 for I do not wish to seem as if I would terrify you by my letters.
10 For they say, "His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible." 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present.
Those in Corinth were evaluating Paul by a wrong standard which meant that they were most likely doing the same regarding themselves and the false teachers.
Paul could have boasted before them based upon the ‘authority’ that had been given to him by the Lord.
They were measuring Paul by the fact that his personal presence was different from how he had authoritatively written in his letters.
A second Century historical document – gives this physical description of Paul.
He was a a small man with bowed legs, who had bushy eyebrows, a bald head, and a hooked nose. It went on to say his back was stooped, his voice high-pitched, and his eyes ran constantly.
In Lystra unbelievers were so enamored with his message they thought he was the god – Hermes – great Orator but in Corinth they said he wasn’t as eloquent at Appollos
and there was that incident where Eutychus – fell asleep during a message fell out of the window and died
Paul is exhorting them to look past the container to the contents.
The false teachers had used these things as issues to attack Paul.
When I am in the pulpit and God has given me a message to share through His Word I am often very direct and confrontive regarding a truth. What if after the sermon was over that I walked over to you and continued being very direct and in your face about additional issues or elaborating more about the issue in the recent sermon. Somehow what is appropriate in one setting is not necessarily in another.
Someone who might be trying to undermine or replace my position here might start saying, ‘Look how he is one way in the pulpit and another way in personal discussions’.
The fact is that every servant of God needs to be wise enough to know when and where to be who and what for the sake of the Gospel.