What are you putting up with?
2Cor. 11:19 For you gladly put up with fools, being wise yourselves!
2Cor. 11:20 For you put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or gives you a slap in the face.
Paul was writing to his dear Corinthian church, but there were lots of problems. These people were constantly changing directions whenever anyone new came along and had a more exciting "show" than Paul had. Paul had laid down his life for these people, he had discipled them and yet, he was not the flamboyant charismatic leader to whom they were all attracted. He just wasn't flashy enough for them. He was an ordinary, probably rather unattractive man who was deeply in love with God. He spoke truth to them and encouraged them to live lives of holiness. But shouldn't following God just be a bit more exciting than a daily life of self-discipline?
So, the people of Corinth were willing to submit themselves to what may have been some pretty crazy preachers just because they were more "popular" than Paul. Paul was not amused and at the same time he was sadly disappointed. He knew that they were getting advice from "fools." These were people who used the church in Corinth for their own personal benefit -- they were charlatans. They used the people, manipulating them, expecting to be treated as someone of high standing. They people of the church even allowed themselves to be slapped in the face by these individuals -- because somehow they were enamored by them.
Paul was sickened. What would it take for the people to understand the Truth found only in Jesus Christ?
Sadly we find that people today continue to be enamored by those individuals who have all the "bells and whistles!" How often have I heard people say that they have to leave their church because their children need one in which there's more to offer; they need a more exciting children's department or they need a teen group that has more exciting events. But what if the church that doesn't have all the bells and whistles has the presence of the Lord? Should it really matter that these other things aren't present? The people in Corinth went after the fancy things and in the midst of it all were losing out on what God had really intended for them.
Sometimes being enamored by someone is not just about a spiritual leader -- but may be about an individual. Too often I have seen women who are so desperate for a relationship with a man that they are willing to set aside the Truth in Jesus Christ for male companionship. They have been willing to put up with fools. They have been willing to become someone's slave -- allowing the person to prey on them, take advantage of them and even slap them in the face (or worse). Why in the world would we do this? Why would we be willing to allow our spiritual lives to suffer for this type of human companionship?
Jesus commanded us to love God and to love our neighbors. He brought it down to a very relational truth. However, it seems that the intimacy of that relationship with God makes us uncomfortable and therefore we are drawn to "surface" relationships. These are the ones that we may think look really good on the outside but don't do much for us on the inside. Just as Paul was encouraging his followers to break free from these types of relationships, we must as well. This is not what God wanted for us. He intended us to have a deeply personal and intimate relationship with him on a daily basis.
Don't put up with junk! Run from it and into the arms of Jesus!
Lord, please help me be discerning about the junk in my own life. Amen.