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A Slap in the Face

A Slap in the Face

Words of Faith 12-19-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Corinthians 11

   [19] You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! [20] In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. [21] To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!


         There are times when a slap in the face seems to be a good thing, a wake-up call or moment of realization. At other times, a slap in the face is clearly an insult or challenge. There are also those preachers who sort hit you with a "slap in the face.” Their boldness seems refreshing and their scolding seems penitent.

         The Corinthians had been drawn to the "in your face" bold style of the false prophets. Their style seemed "spiritual.” Paul had been accused of being "weak" because he did not preach in this way. He chose to deal with the criticism in an unusual way that leads to profound truth.

       The irony in these verses borders on sarcasm. Its sting is tempered only by Paul's motive which was to correct this wayward church. The Corinthians, thinking themselves wise, put up with fools, a naive, foolish thing to do!

       Though Paul may have been accused of "lording it over" the Corinthians, the false apostles were the ones they should fear. In the name of Christ, they would exploit and enslave the Corinthians to gratify themselves. Here the Greek word for "exploit" means "devour" like a parasite. This reminds us of Jesus' accusation against the legalistic Pharisees in Mark 12:40, "They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."

       The false apostles were marked by the fact that they took advantage of believers and were pushy to the point of a "slap in the face.” This probably was not literal slap in the face, but it could have been, based on the boldness described here. The false apostles were "in your face" operators seeking to take advantage of believers but they were appealing because of their pushiness and "strength.”

         Paul's response stings with irony. He had been too "weak" to behave in that sort of way as an apostle. The sarcasm was bleeding through. He wasn't "up to" that "high" level of behavior in his apostleship. He wasn't strong enough to be a parasite. Instead, he had presented himself to the Corinthians as their servant and Christ as their only Lord. "For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. 4:5).

       What do we gain from this?

       At least for a moment we should chuckle at the colorful personality of Paul and his approach to this. What a gift from God he is.

       But we should also realize that we live in a culture that is full of false apostles and charlatans. We don't have to look far to see people puffed up with self-aggrandizement "ministering" in the name of the Lord who actually enslave and exploit believers. Some minister with a "slap in the face,” a message so harsh that we feel "spanked" when the Lord really wants to embrace us! People will praise a "bold" preacher whose loudness screams arrogance and is never balanced by the love of Jesus.

       If we look around, we will see that the secular media loves to point out the excesses of such "ministers" and catch them devouring widows' houses while making lengthy prayers, sneaking off to some untoward place, or saying unseemly things while unobserved. The reports are far too common.

       When one puts themselves on such a pedestal they make themselves an unseemly target for the world. This is not apostolic-- "sent"-- at all. We must be careful so that we are ready to recognize the difference and not get sucked into the latest grand movement that comes to town or the newest "slap in the face" preacher that shows up on television.

       Paul is moving toward a point that is central to the Gospel. When we are weak, He is strong. Power is made perfect in weakness. The way of Christ is a way of humility not self-aggrandizement.   The way of Jesus is that though He was in nature God, with all the pertaining rights thereof, He did not consider His equality with God something to be grasped or clung to, but made himself nothing. The way of the Master is the way that takes the very nature of a servant as Jesus did (Phil 2:5-7).


       Father God, teach me the way of the Master. Teach me the walk of humility. Show me the places for servanthood. Show me the true nature of being a person sent in Jesus' Name. Give me the strength needed for that path. In Jesus' Name.