You may not consider yourself a strong person. In fact, you may feel pretty weak and tired right now. But you are strong enough. You can be strong for others.
I want to encourage you to be strong like a dad. When I think of my dad I think of someone who was strong. As a child, I thought my dad could do anything. I remember watching him lift weights in the garage and thinking he was the strongest man in the world. But rather than his physical strength, it was truly his love for me that was strong. Love is the strongest thing in the world.
The Apostle Paul was strong. He considered himself a ‘spiritual father’ to the Corinthians and gave them three evidences of his fatherly love for them. Consider these three in your life.
1 – Jealousy.
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2)
Strong dads protect others. True love is never envious, but it has a right to be jealous over those who are loved. Paul pictures a loving father who has a daughter engaged to be married. The peril is her unfaithfulness to her fiancé. Dads protect their children. Paul protected the church. He was fearful of those who would tempt believers away from the truth.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
False teachers were tempting Corinthian Christians away from the truth. They had distorted the truth so much they ended up preaching a different Jesus, a different spirit than the Holy Spirit, and a different gospel than God’s way of salvation. When looking for servants of Satan, don’t overlook the pulpit. The Gospel is simple, but false teachers make it complicated. Paul tried to guard the church against false teaching.
Beware of false teachers today. How can you tell if someone is telling the truth about the Gospel?
- Do the teachings confirm Scripture? (Acts 17:11)
- Does the teacher affirm and proclaim that Jesus Christ is God who came into the world as a man to save people from their sins? (1 John 4:1-3)
- Is the teacher’s lifestyle consistent with biblical morality? (Matt. 12:33-37)
2 – Generosity.
“Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.” (2 Corinthians 11:2-8)
Strong dads sacrifice for others. The Corinthians evaluated a speaker by how much money he demanded from his audience. Since Paul hadn’t asked for money, he must not be much. But he did not charge for his ministry because he didn’t want it to be a hindrance to the Gospel. While in Corinth he had labored as a tentmaker and even received gifts from other churches so that he might minister freely in Corinth. It had cost them nothing. Paul didn’t charge them a dime for his priceless ministry to them. No one could accuse him of being greedy. But they did. They twisted Paul’s action, making his ‘free’ message inferior to their ‘pay per view’ approach, likely arguing along the lines of ‘you get what you pay for.’ When you truly love someone you give and give and give some more.
3 – Concern.
Strong dads care about people. The greedy false teachers at Corinth questioned Paul’s authority. But they could not question his care and concern. Paul had sacrificial love for the church. The false teachers enjoyed the luxuries, but Paul endured the hardships. He emphasized his weaknesses, not his strengths, as proof of his love. If he was forced to boast to defend his ministry, he chose to boast about his weaknesses.
Consider what Paul endured for the cause of Christ and the care of the churches…
“ In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:26-28)
This passage teaches us about Paul as an example of true love that often disregards both discomfort and pain. May we never take for granted the sacrifices – the commitments – that others have made so that we might enjoy blessings. May we be willing to endure hardship that others may be blessed.
Notice that Paul reluctantly shared his hardship. He didn’t market his misery. He shared his hardships because he had to. There’s a find line between sharing our difficulties to be an encouragement to others and becoming a complainer or braggart.
As a spiritual father to the Corinthians, Paul was jealous, generous, and concerned. He was strong for those who needed strength. I hope you can be strong for someone today.