Dealing with the Critics

Dealing with the Critics

Words of Faith 11-29-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Corinthians 10:1-6

   By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you--I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! [2] I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. [3] For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. [4] The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. [5] We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. [6] And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

 

       The final concern of Paul in this letter was a serious one. There were still some severe issues related to the false apostles who had been critical of Paul. These false apostles were using every sort of worldly argument and method to try and discredit Paul-- gossip, slander and petty criticism.

       Paul was reluctant to take stern action, but the situation demanded it. His model for this was Christ. Christ's meekness was a strength of spirit that enabled Him to accept calmly the wrongs done against Himself, but to act with a powerful response on behalf of others (John 2:15-16). Meekness epitomizes the strength that comes from loving others rather than self.

       Gentleness is the active corollary to this meek disposition. This was the attitude in which Paul ministered, a spirit which could easily be construed as weakness and timidity by the world's standards. His opponents, the false apostles, thought Paul’s bark was worse than his bite. They acknowledged his "bark" in letter form and that Paul appeared bold. But his "bite," they said, lacked teeth, at least by worldly standards.

       When Paul wrote of "the weapons of the world" he was referring to learning, personal influence, impressive credentials, rhetorical polish, and the like. These things Paul had discounted and discarded in his own personal life. He did not wage war as the world does or use their weapons. The weapons Paul used were the proclaimed Word of God and prayer, weapons with divine power.

Dependent on God and these weapons, frail by worldly standards, one is able to demolish the arguments and every pretension of the gospel's foes. Neither the god of this Age nor his henchmen could oppose the knowledge of God on which Paul relied. No thought, including those of his opponents, is beyond the reach of the One who "catches the wise in their craftiness" and "knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile" (1 Cor. 3:19-20; Job 5:13; Ps. 94:11).

The object of Paul's warfare was to make people obedient to God. Paul was not interested in making them subject to himself or any other man after the manner of the world. His approach to this particular confrontation in Corinth was twofold. First, it was necessary that the Corinthian church express their subjection to Christ by demonstrating loyalty to His representative Paul. In this way their obedience would be complete.

       When Paul was sure they had repudiated his opponents, he could then deal directly with the false apostles, knowing that the church supported him. He was ready to punish their acts of disobedience to Christ. The word "punish" could more forcefully be translated "avenge.” In other contexts, it describes the wrath of God directed against the enemies of His people.

         Paul gives us a terrific example and model for dealing with critics who want to impose the way of the world upon the people of God. We do not wage war as the world does. We do not fight with the same weapons that the world uses. We demolish arguments and pretense that are opposed to the real knowledge of God. We take captive every thought and make it obedience to Christ.

         We do not cave in and do things in the way that the world does them. We don't fight pettiness with pettiness. We pray. We demolish arguments. We keep all thoughts captive. This is the way of Christ witnessed in the life of Paul.

 

         Father God, keep my eye on You. Keep my heart in You. Wage the war for me. Keep my thoughts captive in You. In Jesus' Name.