Protecting the Church in Humility.

C.H. Spurgeon wrote in Lectures to My Students, "Cautious hesitancy is, in 9 cases out of 10, cowardly betrayal. The best policy is never to be diplomatic but to proclaim every atom of the truth of God's Word so far as God has taught it to you."

Paul continues to protect the Corinthian church with humility and transparency, pouring himself out so they will avoid spiritual relapse. He does not want them to entertain those seeking to pull them away from the sufficiency of Christ.


Paul calls himself "weak" as well as all those who hold fast to faith in Jesus Christ (20 Corinthians 12:5, 9). We are powerless to live godly lives without Christ. Jesus is the only reason we act differently than our culture. Our lifestyle demonstrates the Spirit and power of God. Christ is our all in all; we have no ability in our fallen selves. True weakness is soul strength in Christ. (See also 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 20-21, 12:10.)

False believers or those who are influenced by falsehood will struggle to see the beauty of Christ in another believer. As we shepherd one another, we must discipline our minds to see primarily what God has done in each other's lives. Having a bad day or month or year doesn't stop us from being God's child, and we should see each other how He sees us.

Humility (2 Corinthians 11:7-9)

Paul highlights the boasting of belief and unbelief in this passage. True humility counts one's self as weak and only strong in Christ. Anything good in us comes from God.

Protectors of the church don't want to be a burden. They have a modest approach to ministry, letting God's work be the focal point. False influencers emphasize making money for their speaking. In Paul's day, a speaker was considered weak and uninfluential if he didn't charge for his speech. Failure to do so was thought to mean you were not giving your listeners anything of real value, and thus didn't love them.

Paul did ministry the hard way: he lived off free-will offerings from established churches who had the heart to ask to contribute to his ministry. He made up the difference with work in leather and tent-making.

Truth (2 Corinthians 11:10)

Paul's exclusive message was Jesus Christ. He knew Christ was the only hope for his listeners' lives to change, not his own message or speaking ability. Paul's personal ministry was Christ-centered, Word-focused, and sacrificial – and for that, he was called a charlatan.

Love (2 Corinthians 11:10-12)

Paul is responding to a criticism he receives in wider audiences than Corinth. He has no truth of his own to offer. If a message is only intellectually challenging and doesn't change one's life, it is only human and not of God. Paul loves the Corinthians as Christ does; he did not stop because they had a spiritually bad year. People who are influenced by falsehood only see the vices in other people's lives. We are loved because Jesus is in us (1 John 1:9).

Application Points

  • As we shepherd one another, we must discipline our minds to see primarily what God has done in each other's lives. How do you highlight the strength of Christ in other believers?
  • When you speak truth into other people's lives, are you sharing your own message or the exclusive truth of Christ?
  • Is your personal ministry to others characterized by humility, truth, and love?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Acts 18 – Paul's initial ministry to the Corinthians.
  • John 3:30 – John the Baptist's exclusive message.
  • Galatians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Corinthians 9 – Paul responding to churches who wanted to support him financially.
  • Philippians 4:13-15 – Macedonian churches' concern for Paul's personal ministry.