Text: 2 Corinthians 12:1-13
It is a sad truth that often the more we do for people the more they expect and the less they appreciate it. It is human nature and the nature of carnal Christians who are not growing in the Holy Spirit to focus on what they can get from God and His servants in the natural, material world.
The Corinthian church had great spiritual gifts and Paul had written extensively to them in a previous letter and then again at this time. They had not been burdened with giving or sacrificing as other churches. Could this have been why they did not think much of the gospel. A message or service or entertainment that we have to pay to hear is considered valuable. The gospel message we get for free is often thought to therefore be of no value.
This is one problem with serving money rather than God. Paul had boasted of his suffering to make a point to them in their own immature, carnal ways. He here went further and spoke of a dream that has great importance for the church for all time. Here he did not claim that it was himself he was speaking of, although it almost certainly was. He shows is extreme humility and true ability to avoid pride and seeking attention for himself by not even mentioning himself as the subject of this important dream!
He further tells about a specific sharp and continual suffering he had (a “thorn”) and is honest about its being from God. He humbly admits that he was at risk of being conceited if he didn’t have it. We do not know what the thorn is because God’s word does not tell us. But the nature of the suffering was not important. What is such a great lesson for us as believers today is that those who are closest to God and following Him most closely DO suffer. We DO die. We DO get sick and are not healed.
The dangerous false teaching that makes people expect to always be healed and given every good thing they want is destroying many lives here and for eternity. It simply is not the true Gospel. God gives every gift that is good. All light and life come from Him. He will give us all we NEED. But faith in Him is not prophesying healing and life for every person. That is always a lie because every person will die at some point and not recover. The message of the true Gospel is that Jesus Christ overcame sin and death so that we can overcome it in eternity. He also promised that we could have Him with us at all times to give us strength, joy, peace and hope in the worst of situations. As we show these fruit of the Spirit in times of suffering, as Paul did, we show people the true gift that is Christ.
We must be vigilant and speak prophecy only as God leads, never prophesying good just to impress people, gain attention for ourselves or even to make people feel good about us. The truth must be told and the truth is that while we are in this world we will have trials and tribulations. We will eventually get sick and we will die. “Declaring” otherwise without specific personal instruction from God is idolatry, trusting in ourselves and our words over the sovereign will of God. This rampant in the world today, having begun in my country about 70 years ago and making a shambles of the true message of Christ. People who only care about this life can never know the truth of eternal life.
(credit to this message goes to a beloved sister in the faith, Sister Sandra A. Stealey. A passionate lover of God’s word. With her permission this message is published here. I am highly indebted to her)
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