Summary: What does it mean to be a real servant of God. Let's look at Paul's example and follow it.
A. Frank Abagnale was the world’s greatest con artist.
1. The movie Catch Me If You Can, directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, is based on the true-life story this man, who bilked the government out of more than $5 million by the time he was 21 years old.
2. Abagnale was raised in the home of a father who cheated the government and a mother who cheated on her husband, so he observed the ease with which a person can lie his way through life.
3. At age 16, when his parents divorced, he ran away and for two years led a life of amazing deception.
4. By creating false documents and forging checks, he passed himself off as an airline pilot, a medical doctor, and a practicing attorney. During this time he even passed a state bar exam.
5. While posing as a doctor, Frank met a young nurse, Brenda, and fell in love.
6. When he met her father, who was a prestigious lawyer, and her mother, he scored points with them by feigning to be a graduate of the same law school the father attended.
7. Knowing they were dedicated Lutherans, he also claimed to be Lutheran.
8. Brenda’s father hired him as an associate in his law firm.
9. The FBI caught up with Frank at their engagement party at Brenda’s parents’ mansion, but Frank saw them coming and raced upstairs to pack his bags.
10. Brenda followed him into the bedroom.
11. Frank wanted her to escape with him. He knew he had to tell her the truth.
12. So he confessed, “Brenda, I don’t want to lie to you anymore. I’m not a doctor. I’ve never been to medical school. I’m not a lawyer or a Harvard graduate. I’m not even a Lutheran. I ran away from home a year and a half ago when I was 16!”
13. With great concern on her face, Brenda said, “Frank? Frank? You’re not a Lutheran?”
B. Unfortunately, throughout time there have been many fake and false followers of Jesus.
1. The apostle Paul was clearly not one of them.
2. The apostle Paul was the real deal.
3. He was a real servant of God.
4. In all of the twists and turns of his life, Paul had only one concern – to show himself a sincere and faithful follower of Jesus Christ.
5. In today’s section from 2 Corinthians 6, Paul lays out an incredible catalog of experiences in his amazing, adventurous life as a servant of God.
6. Let’s take a closer look at these verses, and aspire to be a real servant of God, like Paul.
I. Understanding the Word
A. Let’s begin with verses 3 and 4a: We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance…
1. Given the success of Paul’s ministry and the jealousy of men, it was inevitable that various accusations would be leveled against him.
2. Paul, however, was committed to being sure that any such charges would be without foundation.
3. He was committed to avoid inconsistent and dishonest conduct.
4. He lived in a way that would give no handle for his enemies to latch on to.
5. He was careful not to do anything that would put a stumbling block in the way of either sinners or saints.
6. We all should take great care that our lives be the very best possible advertisements for the gospel.
B. Paul pointed their attention, and ours, to a triumphant word that characterized his service to God – the word is endurance.
1. Paul said that he commended himself in every way, and he began with his great endurance.
2. Translators and commentators have wondered if Paul’s reference to endurance is a descriptive heading for all that follows, or whether it is simply another element of the catalog itself.
3. In other words, is “endurance” the general category that is specified in what follows?
4. Or is it simply the first of the various members in the list?
5. I agree with the decision made by the translators of the NIV to separate out “endurance” from the rest of the list.
6. Here are a few of the reasons that support their decision:
a. First, Paul modified “endurance” with “great,” in contrast to the unqualified designations that follow.
b. Second, “endurance” is a singular, abstract virtue, while what follows is a list of plural adversities.
c. Finally, it is difficult to see how hardships in and of themselves could commend Paul if they are not related to the positive virtue of endurance.
7. Therefore, the focus of Paul’s commendation in chapter 6, verses 3-10 is on his divinely enabled endurance in the midst of his adversities for the sake of the Gospel.