2Co 12:11-13 “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.”
Paul again emphasizes his folly in boasting to the brethren at Corinth, but then he says something that is very telling. Paul was not glorying as he was because he desired to. Instead the churches attitude at the time forced him to do it. They had become so enthralled with the supposed “credentials” of the false apostles that Paul felt compelled to answer in kind.
There was a measure of anguish in this for Paul, both for the church at Corinth and for himself. He told them that instead of being caught up in the flashiness of others, they should have been commending him for his service toward them through the Spirit. Paul readily confessed that in his own strength he was nothing. Yet, by God’s calling, he was not in any way lacking in comparison to those who had come among them sowing discord.
His next statement leaves off boasting entirely. Paul is speaking to them as a matter of fact (truly). He did, in fact, do the miracles and wonders that were associated with true apostleship. These signs were not done in a corner but were wrought among them. He had gladly labored in all these things for their sakes.
Based on Paul’s question to them in verse thirteen, it would appear that there were some telling the church at Corinth that Paul had not treated them like he did other churches. Paul then pointed out to them that in only one thing were they treated any differently. While others saw to his needs, he had made of himself no burden at all to the Corinthians for his daily welfare. He them asked for their forgiveness for this injustice he had done them.
We might be tempted to read into Paul’s last comment here a note of sarcasm. We would be wrong. This reminds me of a bi-vocational pastor I once knew. The church was not able to fully support him. However, they made an effort to give a consistent amount each month that he could rely on.
Invariably, every so often something new would show up at the church. There were new hymnals, wooden shutters for the windows, and other improvements that no one was expecting. These were bought by the pastor with the money the church was giving to him. One of the deacons asked the pastor one day why, if he did not need the money for personal things, did he keep taking it.
This brother wisely answered “I may not need to receive it, but the church still needs to give it.” We need to always encourage each other in the manner of scriptural giving. We need to remember that it is a blessing to be able to give (Acts 20:35). We need to give freely, and we need to recognize others that do so as the Corinthians should have been doing for Paul.
As we have received freely of the Lord’s grace and mercy in every aspect of our lives, may we give with that same freedom, each doing for the other as the Lord has prospered and purposed!