Jump Start # 3286
2 Corinthians 11:28 “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”
Our verse today concludes a long list of the trials, troubles and tribulations that Paul endured. Against his nature, he was forced to defend himself against some who were taking pot shots at his preaching and his role as an apostle. It’s easy to coach from the stands. The backseat driver always knows what to do, so it seems.
I know of no Christian who could stand beside Paul and say, I’ve had similar things in my life. No one. Whipped. Beaten with rods. Stoned. Shipwrecked. Verse 26 lists eight different dangers that Paul experienced. Hungry. Cold. This grand soldier of Christ kept going.
In our verse today, Paul makes a contrast from the external trials to the internal concern he had for all the churches. The mental, emotional and deep spiritual concerns can hurt us more than all the other things. Just walk through the N.T. churches and you’ll see this.
The Corinthians were divided, carnal, jealous and some even denied the resurrection of Jesus.
The Galatians were leaning back to parts of the Law of Moses.
In the joyous Philippian church, there were two sisters who were not getting along.
In Ephesus, there were shepherds drawing people away from Christ.
In Colossae, would Philemon treat the run-a-way slave as a brother in Christ?
Later on, Laodicea, would become stagnate.
The Romans were fighting about eating meats.
In Thessalonica, some stopped working and were not following the example of the apostles.
Then there were the individuals, such as Mark who deserted Paul. Demas who went back to the world. Alexander who was causing a lot of trouble. Peter was acting like a hypocrite.
The daily pressure of concern for all the churches.
Some thoughts for us:
First, the concern for all the churches surrounded the spiritual wellbeing of the people. We know that from what Paul wrote in his letters to this churches. It wasn’t about budgets. It wasn’t about padding pews. It wasn’t about parking lots. It wasn’t about where to order toner for the copy machine. It was about the spiritual strength of the brethren. Were they growing in the Lord? Was false teaching making a way among them? Paul’s concern was the internal wellbeing of the brethren.
We can be so consumed with the things that do not matter that we miss what really matters. It’s not filling the church house every Sunday, it’s filling hearts with Jesus Christ. That’s the key. That comes from faith. That comes from consistently teaching God’s word.
Second, the concern for all the churches was the responsibility of the apostles. It is not ours. Minding our own business, even congregationally, is hard for some. Some want to be the watchman for the brotherhood. Some want to be involved in every skirmish found everywhere. Our focus needs to be upon the congregation we are a part of.
One of the aspects of pure Biblical study is to understand that Paul wore three different hats. He was an apostle. He was a preacher. He was a Christian. And, when we read Scriptures, we must figure out which hat Paul is wearing. What he does as an apostle, only apostles could do. The concern for all the churches was something that was the work of the apostles. The keys of the kingdom were given to them, not us. They had the authority from Heaven to declare in every church what God’s will was. We do not carry that authority. We cannot butt our way into another place and make demands.
Keeping track of what is going on in every place not only is a waste of time, it’s not our job. What goes on down the road in another congregation is their business. I may like it or I may think they’ve gone nuts, but it’s not my business. I can talk about them. I can blackball them. I can thrown mud at them. And, sadly that’s the choices many make. You don’t find Paul telling the Ephesians about how mixed up the Corinthians were. You don’t read in Romans about the fighting sisters of Philippi. It wasn’t the concern of these other places. Nosey minds want to know all the dirt that goes on in the brotherhood. That kind of information doesn’t build faith and it doesn’t help folks get to Heaven. In major cities, where there are many congregations, knowing too much about others and getting in each other’s business can be a real problem. Often judgments are made without knowing all the facts and the backstory. Some are accused of accepting wrong or doing wrong without knowing what’s going on behind the scenes.
Third, our concern needs to be focused upon the congregation I’m a part of, my family and myself. Daily pressure is what our verse says. Daily. When one reads the opening of nearly every letter Paul wrote, he states that he prays for them. All those churches. All those people. Yet, do you, do I, even pray for one congregation, the one I am a member at? Daily, Paul was concerned. Daily, Paul was thinking about them. Daily, Paul was wanting and praying for their spiritual success. How about us?
I get the impression that some are not content nor happy unless there is some smoke in the air somewhere. They love to dig up the dirt, hear about the scandals, learn about trouble, see what preachers got fired. And, when none of that is going on, they just can’t stand it. Such should not be the mindset of God’s people.
Every church has problems and issues from time to time. Every person could be doing more and doing better. But rather than focusing upon what’s not right, we need to turn our attention to the blessings of God and how rich we are spiritually. God’s family is wonderful, caring and supportive.
The daily pressure of concern for all the churches. What a powerful statement. What a great responsibility.