Read - 2 Corinthians 10
Message - Scott Woodburn
The most famous children's address in the world is based around the well known passage in 1 Samuel 16. A new king would be anointed but the prophet Samuel was to learn that man looks at the outward appearance while God looks at the heart. I suspect that every pastor or preacher has at one point or another taught this very truth to a gathering of little ones at the front of our church buildings.
The Corinthian church was a place where public appearance had been raised to an incorrect position. Paul sums up what his critics have said about him. His letters were weighty and strong but he was weak physically and a poor preacher (v10). Why would you want such a pastor? We all know that the best pastors are young, they're amazing preachers, they run a 5K most days, they don't button the top four buttons in any shirt, they've got funky glasses and they have a bible verse tattoo somewhere on their body. If we've ever believed any of this then Paul offers a gentle rebuke.
We are not to build castles of sand based on what is before our eyes (v7). Paul might not have been a wonderful physical specimen but he was a Christian. If his critics were confident that they belonged to Christ then they needed to remember that Paul did too (v7b). The man in your church pulpit may not be as exciting as the guy you watch on YouTube but he belongs to Jesus and is therefore worthy of your love, respect and prayers.
Paul could also rightly speak of his authority as an apostle. He might have to speak about it too much (v8a) but he isn't ashamed of it (v8c). He is an apostle for the building up of the church (v8b). Not to destroy the church or frighten them with his letters (v9) but to strengthen them and to show them the glory of Christ. To answer his critics Paul states that whatever he writes he also says in person (v11). He doesn't have two faces, he doesn't deal in truth and also falsehood.
The Apostle refuses to be drawn into comparing himself with his critics (v12a). For them it is about how you look and how you sound and yet they do not realise that when they spend their days measuring and comparing themselves against someone else "they are without understanding" (v12b). It is a fool's errand, it is a nonsense, it is like Samuel thinking Eliab would be king based on appearance alone.
I'm sorry to say that over lockdown I've heard of ministers who have received fierce criticism over the "quality" of their online work. Some men have done their best with limited resources while others have produced online content with high production values. Neither man should be criticised but unfortunately like magpies we are attracted to the brighter, shinier, trendier resource.
How dare we! Instead we should ask ourselves...is what I have heard true? Does this resource point me to Christ? Has the Word been read and preached faithfully? If we have become obsessed with the production values of our congregational videos or grown frustrated that our church hasn't done one of those amazing worship songs with lots of different people singing in different homes then perhaps we are more like Paul's opponents than we care to think. We live in a visual age which also has the attention span of a goldfish, if we aren't grabbed in the first three minutes then we disappear to Instagram to post a photo of our lunch.
Brothers and sisters, may God forgive our appearance obsessed mentality. May He our forgive our desire for "not too much" of His Word. May He quench our thirst which always wants something new. The Lord does not change and He remains the One who looks on the inside. By His grace may he continue His work of sanctification and soften our hardened hearts.
Q18 Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell? The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.