Putting Up With Abuses
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 frustrated that the Corinthians had been tolerating false prophets. His writing is laced with irony as he chides them for being so wise as to put up with fools.
The Corinthians had been so taken by some of these false preachers that they were willing to fall into the slavery of legalism. More than likely this had to do with following Jewish law to the extent that they were not experiencing the freedom to be found in Christ. And these great and powerful preachers were taking advantage of the ordinary people, preying on them and taking money and resources from them.
These kinds of leaders don’t have the best interests of others in mind, instead they have themselves in mind and how they can use others for their own benefit. And the abuse went beyond financial, it went to the physical. The worst personal affront of the day was to be slapped in the face and yet, the Corinthians were allowing this to happen. What a misuse of power! Interestingly this abuse of power must have continued until the 7th century when it was determined at the Council of Braga that a Bishop could no longer, at his will, strike his clergy.
Paul was frustrated that the Corinthian church was willing to put up with this kind of abuse, rather than exercise the freedom that he had presented them in Christ.
The freedom which Christ is offering us really is beyond our imagination. However, it is a freedom which can only come from daily walking and talking and being formed by him and this takes a commitment to being open and vulnerable before him.
Instead of this kind of vulnerability before God we tend to be drawn toward strong human leadership. Unfortunately this kind of power and/or leadership can be used and abused, whether in the workplace, government or even the home. When we place ourselves under this type of authority, rather than the authority of God, we allow ourselves to be used and abused. How was it that the clergy became tolerant of being hit in the face by their Bishops for 700 years??? What makes us submit to behaviors which go against the very nature of Christ?
Paul was stunned that the followers in Corinth would be willing to put up with this behavior. While we may not have Church leadership hitting people in the face, there are other abuses that we have tolerated. It is just easier not to rock the boat? Or is it that we allow others to have such power over us that we get our eyes off of Christ! All of this becomes a distraction to the real goal of life — knowing and becoming like him. Paul was trying to wake up the Corinthian church.
Maybe there are those who need a wake-up call today! What or who are we allowing to become a distraction in our lives? What are we tolerating because we refuse to seek the face of God?
It is time to break the cycle of abuse. We must allow Christ to have full power and authority and follow his leading or we will discover that we are simply putting up with fools!
Lord, help me to seek you today and every day. Amen.