Read 2 Corinthians 2:12-17.
“And who is equal to such a task?,” Paul asks. [vs.16b] That is, equal to the task of “the horrifying truth [that] … preaching the Gospel … leads some to life, and at the same time sentences some to death.” [vs.16a] (C.K. Barrett, p.102) Paul would have said “Certainly not me” and any preacher right with Christ would agree.
But Paul’s adversaries in Corinth, whoever they were, must have thought otherwise, exalting themselves and affirming their sufficiency. They were not sent from God, were not sincere and were making merchandise of the message of Christ. [vs.17] Nevertheless, some of the Corinthians, people Paul had himself led to the Lord, had bought into their falseness, swallowed their insincerity hook, line and sinker and had, at least, begun to disrespect and resist Paul and the message of Christ he had shared with them with his words and ways.
And so, Paul is now in the very unenviable position of having to defend himself to those who were his own, as it were. And how shall he defend his place of rightful leadership without appearing to be guilty of the very thing he is decrying – arrogance, control, insincerity? How can he humbly rest the minds of this church – again, a church he had himself founded! – from the grip of those who would use this church for themselves?
Heavenly Father, Satan seeks to deceive me, and by brothers and sisters around me, at every turn. Guard my heart and mind from his sinister schemes and the deceptions of those who are actually his tools and pawns. Ever remind me of my place in your Son’s victory parade, as a humble captive of yours, graciously afforded your mercy. May I not think too highly of myself, thinking myself self-sufficient, thereby making myself vulnerable to Satan’s work. Nor may I think of myself as nothing, lest I lose sight of the fantastic gift you have entrusted me with – true knowledge of you. Make my life a sweet aroma of sacrifice to you. In Christ Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.