“It’s amazing what can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”
But of course, folks do care who gets the credit. Recognition and status is a huge component in any society and the Corinthian one was no different. But status, recognition, “face,” only serve to divide, and Christianity is not about division but unity.
Though the Corinthians owed their place in Christ to Paul and his efforts, there was a movement underway to diminish his value. Other teachers, eager for pre-eminence, were working to discredit him. In defending himself, and his ministry, Second Corinthians becomes the most personal of all Paul’s letters. His personal defense is most focused in the first three, and the final three chapters. In the last three, there is a focus on weakness.
Totally counter-culturally, Paul, beginning in chapter eleven, exalts weakness. This is the characteristic Paul’s opponents have attributed to him and rather than rebut the criticism, Paul embraces it. Unlike his opponents, Paul does not burden his brethren and often goes without to supply what they need. This is not the action of a status seeker, not the action of a sacrificial ministry.
It is, however, the action of one who follows Christ. Looking at the list of problems Paul faced at the end of chapter eleven, one might wonder how anyone suffering all this could possible have the approval of God. And yet, no preacher of the first century accomplished more of lasting endurance than Paul. It was in his weakness that the power of God could be seen. There’s no other way to explain Paul’s success.
It is more amazing what can be accomplished if we seek to give only God the credit . . . and the glory.