Today’s readings… (2 kings 14), (Ezekiel 4), (2 Corinthians 12), (2 Corinthians 13)

We made reference yesterday to those who “measure themselves” against each other  – and how this is seen in  attitudes in such as politicians.  We now read in Corinthians of Paul’s comments of the things he could boast about – if he wanted to.     The final chapters illustrate that boastful attitudes were still a problem at Corinth, they also illustrate that Paul had come to realize he should be thankful, that “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated” [v.7]; it reminds us of how Jesus was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted” (tested – Matt. 4 v.1)
We cannot be sure what this “thorn” was, some disability; many think it could have been poor eyesight.  Turn on 2 or 3 pages and look at the last chapter of Galatians, Paul writes “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand” [v.11] which indicates difficulty in writing which was most likely caused by poor eyesight.
This handicap, whatever it was, stopped him from being too elated and so he says, “for the sake of Christ then I am content with weaknesses …”  But why is it called “a messenger of Satan”?  It is a figure of speech to describe adversity. Satan is a Hebrew word, and several times in the Old Testament it is translated as “adversary” and a particular person is named. Adversity brings out the best in genuine disciples!
In completing this letter he expresses the fear that when he comes “I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality and sensuality that they have practiced” [12 v.21]  There is the blunt request (13 v.5) “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves that Jesus Christ is IN you” (13 v.9). Let us test ourselves.
The atmosphere at Corinth seems to have been very much like that in Australia today, for all of us are struggling to maintain our faith today in our increasingly Godless environments.  We need God’s word IN our thoughts every day as a defence against the fleshly attitudes all around us.  Paul says, don’t you realize ”Christ is IN you”  Those who are baptised must realize this – every day. We prove that Christ is in us by becoming more and more like our Lord and Master in the way we think and act and most particularly in our prayer life.  Paul concludes by writing, “Finally brothers (& sisters), rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace” [v.11]  Let us also do that, there is no room in our lives to be elated..

 

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