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Beyond Proper Limits

Beyond Proper Limits

Words of Faith 12-11-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Corinthians 10:13-16

   [13] We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. [14] We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. [15] Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, [16] so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man's territory.

 

       There were several things that Paul had to address regarding this group of false prophets that had come into Corinth and been so harshly critical of him. Paul was never very specific about the charges against the false prophets but here he made a direct charge.

       The charge was twofold: First, the false apostles had trespassed on his legitimate "sphere of authority" or "province" at Corinth in defiance of an agreement made with the leaders in Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-10). Second, in their unrestrained self-commendation his opponents were laying a false claim to credit for work he had done in his own "territory" in Corinth.

       How exactly do you defend against that? These false prophets had intruded into the region. They had come into Corinth and taken up a level of spiritual authority which was not theirs. They had taken credit for the church there. They were apparently receiving financial support from the believers in Corinth and then determined to be critical of Paul, the founding pastor who still was their spiritual overseer.

       Paul modeled the "right way" in the face of the "wrong way.” He declared his ethical position to not boast beyond proper limits and make no claim beyond the regions of his ministry travels. He would not claim work done by others or intrude into territories assigned by God to others. His great hope was that through the seeds planted in the church at Corinth the activity of God would continue to grow and grow.

       This might seem to be just an ancient squabble over turf but there are some lasting issues here. It is not uncommon today for new ministries and church plants to come into an area and see rapid growth, only to realize at some point that their wonderful growth came from believers gleaned out of nearby churches. Some ministries are almost mercenary in seeking sheep from other bodies while others come to disdain it.

       Paul would likely say that it lacks integrity to take people from another church and claim credit for growth that is not really growth. This didn't sit well in the ancient world. Today it reflects a climate of "retail Christianity" in which churches compete for the "market" of available believers in a particular community instead of sharing the Gospel with unbelievers. Christians sometimes "shop" for the church that will best serve them and has the best amenities for their comfort.

       Not everyone jumps on board with the retail movement. Many pastors today are openly declaring that they are not seeking people from other churches, but instead want to mobilize the Body of Christ to reach the lost. The hope of the Gospel is to see new believers and disciple them in the Lord. While there are bound to be some families that need a different church setting for a legitimate reason, the deeper answer is to get past church hopping and be serious about growing where we can strategize to reach the lost.

       It is also a vital call of Scripture to nurture the Body of Christ in ways that care with the heart of Jesus, healing the broken hearted and comforting the afflicted. A Body of believers that is not cared for will not be a Body that reaches out to the lost or is a good place for them once they find the saving grace of God.

       Bottom line, Paul instructs us to be careful about boasting beyond proper limits-- taking credit for people that the Spirit has converted through the ministry of others. He would also instruct us to be carefully attentive to the field that God has assigned us to and find ways to reach those who do not know Jesus.

     What is it that God wants to do through you in the place where you are? Who is God trying to reach through you and through the church where he has you?

 

       Father God, teach me the way of humility in serving You and reaching out to the lost. Keep my heart clear of the claims that are beyond proper limits. Focus me on the mission You have for me and the people You want me to reach. In Jesus' Name.