“I Am A Nobody”

Text: 2 Corinthians 12:11-12

In writing to Corinth, Paul defended his apostleship while trying not to sound arrogant. He was defending the message without elevating self. We are not to overestimate our significance. However, we are also not to underestimate our importance. In this lesson, we will consider some things we can learn from Paul’s statement.

Reject Reasons to Boast in Self

  • Was Paul really a nobody? … Paul had reason to boast, but he refused to do so – we must do likewise
  • Refused to boast in his family’s faith (they had him circumcised – Philippians 3:5) – we are individually accountable (Ezekiel 18:9-13,20)
  • Refused to boast in his heritage (of Israel, Benjamin; a Hebrew – Philippians 3:5) – our background is irrelevant (Colossians 3:11)
  • Refused to boast in his adherence to human tradition (Pharisee – Philippians 3:5) – of no value (Matthew 15:3-9)
  • Refused to boast in his personal righteousness (blameless – Philippians 3:6) – we need the attitude of an unworthy slave (Luke 17:10)
  • Refused to boast in his work in the gospel (labors – 2 Corinthians 11:23) – was his obligation (1 Corinthians 9:16; 2 Corinthians 4:5), and ours (1 Peter 3:15)
  • Refused to boast in his hardships (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) – rejoice in sufferings; reward comes later (1 Peter 4:13)
  • Refused to boast in his experiences (2 Corinthians 12:1-6) – experiences do not equal superiority (1 Corinthians 15:8; 2 Corinthians 12:11)
  • Refused to boast in his earthly citizenship (valuable – Acts 22:25-29) – worthless if we do not obey God (Philippians 3:20; Acts 10:34-35)
  • Refused to boast in his apostleship – difficult role; “scum of the world” (1 Corinthians 4:9-14)
  • Paul had many reasons to boast in self – but he refused to do so; only in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:17)

Reject Feelings of Inferiority

  • Paul was not inferior to the other apostles (2 Corinthians 12:11; 11:5) – he recognized this; we must not feel inferior to others
  • All are equal before God (Acts 10:34-35)
  • All are equal within the church (1 Corinthians 12:14-20)
  • All have been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)
  • God wants all to be saved (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9)

Accept Responsibility for Important Work

  • Paul did the work of an apostle (2 Corinthians 12:12; Acts 26:15-20) – despite being a nobody (2 Corinthians 12:11) or chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15)
  • There are no apostles today, but what can we do? … teach (Acts 20:20); assemble (Hebrews 10:24-25); lead in worship (1 Corinthians 14:26); serve the church (Romans 16:1); visit (James 1:27); show hospitality (Hebrews 13:2); do benevolence (Galatians 6:10); encourage (1 Thessalonians 5:14); be an example (Matthew 5:16)
  • Even a “nobody” can do important work for the Lord (Matthew 10:42)

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