1Co 2:3-5 “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
We have all probably had the experience of someone encouraging us to do something that was out of the ordinary and not socially popular. They may have used all kinds of flowery speech to motivate us. However, they would be moving on and not have to endure the long-term effects of whatever change they were coaching us in. Paul was reminding the church at Corinth that he had been there for the hard times and was in this for the long haul.
While verse three may describe Paul’s condition, he is not simply reminding them of that. He begins by telling them “I was with you.” The people we feel closest to and have the most confidence are those that have stood with us in trying times. We have confidence in the counsel of people who have endured similar trials. Those who have stood strong even when their own condition was one of weakness and fear often inspire us.
As the servants of Jesus Christ, we may find ourselves in situations where our brothers and sisters in Christ need us. It may not seem like the best time for us. We may be having struggles of our own. Physical, emotional, or spiritual weakness may have taken hold of us. Doubts and fears may leave us in a state of fear and trembling. Yet, in looking to God, we are able to be with them in a way that matters.
Whether Paul was speaking of physical infirmity, the reverential fear of our God, of the very understandable fear of what he might have to suffer literally (beatings, imprisonment, etc.), he was still with them. While he was with them, he was preaching and teaching them about their crucified Lord. He did not try to mimic any of the philosophers of that day, nor was he attempting to impress them with a great vocabulary.
Paul came to the Corinthian brethren in the same way that each of us should bear the testimony of God; with simple speech and plain words. The preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not powerful because there are men who have a talent for oratory. The preaching of the gospel is powerful because it comes in the manifestation of the Spirit.
This gospel is not only heard with the ear but also with the heart. When the Spirit is demonstrated in the preached word, it comes with miraculous power to change the desires of the hearer. It moves us to confess our sins and to forgive those that trespass against us. We are lifted up to glorify God and place all our trust in Him.
All of this occurs with the goal that we should not put confidence in men. Man’s wisdom has not saved us or changed us. The oratory of men wise in their own estimation may stir people for a season, but sooner or later that fervor passes. Wisdom from God, which comes in the power of God, has a lasting effect on our lives. Our faith is anchored in the One who is both author and finisher of the same (Heb 12:2).
May we be ever thankful to God who, through the Spirit, enables us to speak with His power!