Together, we serve
to know Christ
and to make Christ known
for the glory of God

15 March 2021

Proverbs 17:20

One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper;
    one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble.

The problem for such a man above is not bad luck, as he would think is the cause. Nor is the problem one of circumstances – if only he had money, a good job, a job without a boss, neighbors who appreciated him, etc. Jesus stated clearly his problem: it is his heart. “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts…” (Mark 7:21).

If only we “good” people could understand this principle; then we would not be perplexed about the sins of others, nor the bad things that happen to us. We wonder how “bad” people can keep behaving badly. Bad behavior is the mark of a crooked heart. It neither seeks good, nor (should it be under the illusion that it is seeking good) can it find it. And the dishonest tongue is dishonest because of the heart that is crooked. Thus, if you link up with an ungodly neighbor, understand that your neighbor will expose you to, and try to lead you into, sin.

Understand more that much of our own calamities are the result of our own sin. Christians will often ask if their suffering is the result of sin. Even then they are following the wrong trail, for they try to connect their suffering with sin that is not a direct cause. “I am having a hard time at work because I must learn to trust God more…I need more faith…I need to be more disciplined…” Often our hard times are the result of direct sin – speaking rudely to our neighbor, showing dishonor to our supervisor, complaining, doing poor work. Indeed, where many times we credit suffering to being “bold witnesses for Christ,” the real truth is that we have been arrogant and obnoxious.

Check the heart. It is the hardest work to do, but the most necessary.

 

2 Corinthians 11

I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.”[a] I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way. Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so. 10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

 

Paul Boasts About His Sufferings

16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.