(2 Corinthians 5:11-12)
In this world, position means everything. Position is power and people seek the power of positions to further their own goals, whether that is to gain money, credibility, authority or to help others.
In this world it is all about position. But in Christ, it’s not about position, as Paul spoke of in these few verses. He said,
“11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men; but what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to be proud of us, so that you may be able to answer those who pride themselves on a man’s position and not on his heart.”
Why It’s Not About Position
If we look more closely at Paul’s words above we see two things. First, that Paul was trying to establish where he and his fellow workers in the Lord stood. And second, showing that he was not seeking any kind of status or position on the basis of his work for Christ.
Paul was instructing the church at Corinth about where they should stand in the Lord. They were not to lord it over anyone by wielding the power of the Lord for the wrong reasons, but rather to use the power of the Lord to further the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, just as Paul was doing.
The fear of the Lord was and still is not a thing to be taken lightly. Paul was careful in his use of the power of God and in the fear of the Lord for the purpose of ministering to people. His aim was to persuade those who had questions or doubts so they could see the blessings of coming to know Christ. Paul also recognised that the power of the Lord that was at work in himself and those who worked around him was done through or in spite of their weaknesses. As he said in verse 11, “…but what we are is known to God.”
What we are today, as in Paul’s day, are men and women beset with the weaknesses and passions of the flesh, but who in Christ stand strong. We are at war with the flesh and at war with the evil spiritual realm that surrounds us. And in spite of these things, we are strong in Christ because He makes us strong. He makes us able to stand as we look to God and obey the words of Jesus Christ. He makes us capable of sharing our testimony and teaching the words of the Lord, in spite of our weaknesses, so that God and the Lord Jesus Christ are glorified.
Under such circumstances, who are we to boast? Who are we to say or even think that any of this comes from us or through our own knowledge, insight or power.
The position any person may hold in Jesus Christ is only what He decides. It’s not about position as a man sees position, because in Christ as we grow and mature, we do not go up into roles of leadership like the people of the earth. Instead, we go further into the role of a servant, ready and able to do the will of Him whom we serve, that is, Jesus Christ.
Seeking position in this world is driven by pride. People want power and glory and the position is how they seek to get it.
Paul even stated as much in his words in this section, for he said:
”…that you may be able to answer those who pride themselves on a man’s position and not on his heart.”
Man “prides himself” on his position. People look to those who are in positions of power. It is through pride that people seek these positions.
But the position a man holds means nothing to the Lord. A man may be a king or a pauper, he may live in a castle or live on the streets. But the Lord will judge each man not by his position or power that he wields, but on the condition of his heart.
Think for a moment of all the kings of Israel. Saul was the first king chosen by the people, but he did not do what was good in the sight of God. When Saul died, David was appointed king in his stead, and David was chosen by God who said of David that he was a man after God’s own heart. The crown was then passed to the sons of David and it was testified of these various kings that some did what was good in God’s sight, but many did what was evil in God’s sight.
These were all men of position and power. But it was not their position or power that interested God. It was the condition and desires of their heart that determined whether they were good or evil in God’s sight.
As another example consider the example of the rich man and Lazarus as related to the disciples by Jesus.
19 “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz’arus, full of sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz’arus in his bosom.
The rich man had position, power and great wealth. But his heart was not right for he did not provide anything for Lazarus who sat in the gutter at his gate, covered in sores and licked by dogs. The rich man had more than enough, but in his pride gave nothing to those who needed help.
When both men died Lazarus was taken up to the bosom of Abraham, but the rich man sank into hell. It is evident from this judgement that the heart of Lazarus was good in God’s sight. In spite of his many afflictions, Lazarus was not bitter but served the Lord as well as he was able, and was rewarded with a place in the care of Abraham in God’s kingdom. The rich man on the other hand went to Hades and was condemned for the evil of his heart.
A Lesson For Us
This is a great lesson for us. Consider what you are striving for in this life? Are you seeking the good things of this life, or are you seeking to do what is good in the sight of God? It is evident from Paul’s words and also the examples above that we should seek the latter rather than the former. Seek what is good in the sight of God.
I have seen and heard in the modern church some who teach that if you are not receiving the blessing of this life, such as money, wealth, power or position, then you are not walking right with God. This is the basic tenet of prosperity ministry; that God will reward His people with the wealth of this world when they follow Him.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Prosperity ministry or wealth ministry as some call it, is utterly false and leads people into worshiping the things of this world rather than God. It is false teaching of the highest order for it take people away from a full and true devotion to the things of the Lord, instead focusing them on what they need to do to gain wealth and so prove themselves worthy in the Lord’s sight. What rubbish!
Recall where Jesus said:
24 Jesus looking at him said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
And of course we cannot forget the words of Paul to Timothy when he said, “The love of money is the root of all evils.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
This is a powerful lesson and a powerful message that we need to keep in mind. It’s not about what we have, it’s not about our wealth and it’s not about position. What will commend us to God is the condition of our heart and doing what is good in the sight of God. It is by following the words of Jesus Christ and living in accord with His gospel of salvation.
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