Paul boasts in his sufferings for Christ, as these sufferings are the true mark of being a servant of God, an apostle for his name. Paul says that he has been in prison, in danger from rivers, from bandits, in danger from his fellow Jews, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city and danger in the country, danger in the sea, and danger from false believers. He has laboured and toiled, and gone without sleep. Paul reminds us to boast of our weaknesses, and how we have overcome them. For we do not grow strong through excelling by our strengths, but by learning from our weaknesses. This chapter reminds us that following God is not an easy task, in fact, it will involve countless obstacles and sacrifices, but our weaknesses will develop into strengths, and our character will become more godly and righteous, as modelled after Jesus Christ himself.
4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.’ 2 Corinthians 11:4
Furthermore, Paul warns of false apostles – of people that preach different religions than the one true religion and God that we believe in. We are not to put up with this, but are to guard our hearts and minds by the knowledge that Christ has planted in us. We must keep on doing what we are doing, and to avoid such ‘false apostles’ or ‘false workers.’ These false apostles are under Satan’s name – ‘he himself masquerades as an angel of light.’ Therefore, Paul reminds us of less obvious and more tricky dangers that may come our way.
Chapter 12 – Paul’s vision and his thorn
Once again, in Chapter 12, Paul boasts of his weaknesses. Paul realizes that God sent a thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming overly conceited.
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ 2 Corinthians 12″9-10
As Christians, perseverance is a large part of the job description. In this secular world, we will face those who scorn us, who are ignorant and look down on us, those who are unwilling to accept the faith and instead turn a blind eye. These people will be strangers, but can also represent themselves as close family members. But we are to delight in these hardships, for this is Christ’s way of training us up to be apostles of Christ – approved workmen that are not ashamed (as mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:15). When we are weak, then we are strong. When we call for Christ’s help and guidance, in our moment of vulnerability we have exposed ourselves to God, who will provide strength and understanding.