Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11:1-15
Observation: Paul again defends his ministry and warns against all of the false prophets in Corinth. These prophets were well spoken and eloquent, a stark contrast from Paul’s unpolished and unsophisticated demeanor.
Application: A few weeks ago, I attended my friend’s college graduation, and among the pomp and circumstance, there were two student speakers. Both were already fairly successful; one had a full-time job offer with a respectable company and the other had a full scholarship for grad school. One of them gave a speech that was clearly well rehearsed and polished, while the other one used a few notes but mostly just joked and connected with the audience.
By almost any worldly standard, the first speaker was better -- more fluid, coherent, and practiced. However, she didn’t say anything. Sure, she spoke for 6 ½ minutes, but her speech – well polished and flawlessly delivered – had no substance. She sounded good but left the room empty. She sounded eloquent and sophisticated, but her message meant nothing. (In contrast, the second speaker rambled at times and was way less professional…yet, she joked, poked fun at herself and her classmates, and engaged with the audience. I would have chosen her over the other speaker any day!)
Skilled speakers aren’t everything. The message matters more.
Paul had an important message to deliver, and he knew his skills were subpar to other speakers. Here’s how he puts it in verse 6:
“I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way.”
Paul’s saying: I may not have the skills, and I’m certainly not the most polished speaker. But, I’ve been equipped with everything I need thorough Christ Jesus. My message matters more.
If we value only eloquence and polish, we may find ourselves easily deceived by a message that doesn’t matter.
“You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.” (verse 4)
So look around. What in your life appears in a bright and shiny package but actually brings darkness instead of light into your life? Who’s eloquent and well spoken but without a message that truly matters?
Remember, “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of the light.” (verse 14)
Let’s be on guard. Let’s realize that the best messages aren’t always in the most attractive packages – in fact, some of the things that seem appealing and alluring and attractive are the things that can corrupt us most. Let’s vow to look for truth behind every corner and in every package. Let’s resolve to recognize the Paul’s of our world, the ones who carry a message of hope and truth and grace, even when they’re not the brightest or loudest. Let’s commit to living for a message that matters more. Let’s live for the message of Jesus.
Prayer: God, I ask you today to reveal anything in my life that isn’t what it seems. I pray you’ll help me seek truth around every corner. I pray you’ll help me listen for a message that matters rather than getting caught up in something that simply sounds good. Amen.