2 Corinthians 11 is the middle in a trio of chapters in which Paul uses boasting as a powerful device to compel, persuade, exhort, convince his listeners. In faith; in life; he testimony resounds.
And my heart is amazed. What man, this Paul.
16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would[a] but as a fool. 18 Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. ESV
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? ESV
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. ESV
Jeremiah chapters 8-10 proclaim woe, devastation, loss… and the lost. God’s people- lost.
And this reminder, proclamation, call:
3 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” ESV
It is easy, so easy, to value so many things; for my heart to lift many things higher than understanding and knowing the Lord. I ponder what my life would look like if I carefully assessed every area to align it with this ultimate goal. Do I see understanding and knowing the Lord as a priceless treasure- that- if nothing else could ever be said about my life- it could be said that I understood and knew the Lord? That I was an image bearer of His steadfast love, justice, and righteousness through my life?
It is (relatively) easy for me to pose the rhetorical questions to myself and ponder. But what will I do in and out of my (often) very long days? How can I recoup my vigor and intellect? I know the Lord finds me in my smallness. He is as present with me in the sometime weariness as He is in the moment of study and prayer. I pray I find His reality in the every moment of every day- when I am weak and small; when I am strong and sound.
23 I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
24 Correct me, O Lord, but in justice;
not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. ESV
Lord, I pray that I would be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. Thank you for Paul who lived and loved with such anointed, brilliant passion for You. Direct my steps, O Lord. I am small before You. Amen