23 Apr 2023

Boasting In My Weakness [2 Corinthians 11:16-33]


Instead of boasting about his accomplishments, Paul boasts about his weakness and sufferings. Why? He shows us that: 1. Suffering is the path for God's servant. The Christian call is not to fame, ease or comfort. It is a call to take up the cross. That means taking up suffering and shame. Remember, it is about present sufferings, future glory. 2. Suffering is the preparation for God's servant. Suffering is not meaningless. It teaches us to look outwards and upwards. It develops empathy and compassion, and it forces us to rely on God. 3. Suffering is the proof for God's servants. We are like jars of clay, so that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. And we are like captives in a Roman tirumphal procession- for we are the conquered enemies that bring glory to our new Lord and savior. The questions for you are "what do you glory in today? " and "what is your view towards suffering? "



Sermon Transcript

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We are as a church going through the Bible and we arrive at 2 Corinthians Chapter 11, verses 16 to 33. It reminds me of when I was younger.

When I was a schoolboy in primary school, I was big and strong and fat and bossy. Uh, something I'm not now, I think, total opposite. But in those days, I would boss people around in my school bus.

I like to be the leader of the pack. I like to be the alpha male, as it were. So I would subjugate the younger boys, bully them. I would command them to do my bidding. Now, the older ones probably are more resistant but the younger ones love being in my gang. And strange as it may sound, they love being ordered and commanded all around.

That's what I think of when I think about the Corinthians. There were bullies who have come into the church. The false teachers have come to take advantage of the Corinthians. But somehow, the Corinthians, like those younger children in my school bus, seem to be dazzled by these boastful and arrogant false teachers.

The false teachers boast about their letters of commendation. They boast about their style of authoritative leadership. They boast about the number of people they are influencing. They boast about the high fees they charge. And these Corinthians, gullibly and naively, decided to follow them.

Now, the apostle Paul, who is the true spiritual father to these Corinthians, obviously are is getting very worried. He wrote to them in 2 Corinthians 11 saying that, I'm concerned that your thoughts may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ because you are listening to these false teachers.

Paul was not concerned that he was losing his followers. He's not self-centred but he's concerned for the spiritual health of the church. He's concerned that these Corinthians may be beguiled and fall away from Christ. So Paul wrote 2 Corinthians to warn them and to appeal to them.

We have seen, we have seen many things Paul has written for these ten chapters or so. But what else is Paul to do? Well in this chapter, we see how Paul is going to fight fire with fire. He's going to play the opponent's game. He's going to also boast himself. If the false teachers have boasted and you guys have so gullibly believed them and followed them, let me in a desperate attempt to win you back, also boast.

So in Chapter 11 and verse 1, he already caveats it right from the start saying, I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. He's going to launch into what we will call 'the fool's speech'.

So he says, please understand, I know what I'm doing is not very smart, not very wise in a sense, but you have given me no choice. I have to likewise boast, so please bear with me.

And in verse 16 which is the text today, he repeats it. I repeat, let no one think me foolish. I'm going to boast, but apologetically he says, please don't think I'm foolish in a sense. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I'm saying with this boastful confidence, to kind of put myself up there, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. Again, very apologetic. Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! So now you sense a tone of a sarcasm.

You guys bear with them, thinking you are so wise. You like to bear with fools, so.. so alright, bear with me a fool, when I launch my boastful fool's speech.

You guys bear if someone makes slaves of you, devours you, takes advantage of you, puts on air, strikes you in the face. So here we see a five-fold accusation or indictment of the false teachers that are bullying the Corinthians.

Paul says that these people, they make slaves of you. This probably refers to their domineering style of authority. They devour you, this speaks of how they exploit the Corinthians. They take advantage of you, that's a word that means to trap them, to bait them, to catch them in a trap. They put on airs, that's a word that means they exalt themselves. And they strike you in the face, probably not so literally like a slap, but probably meaning that they humiliate you.

So these five accusations, indictments are what Paul says the false teachers are doing. They dominate, they bully you. They take advantage of you. They trap you with their words, with their life. They put themselves up on, at your expense and they actually humiliate you. But somehow, you bear with them. Just that, just as I'm thinking of my friends in a school bus, they bear with me; they are so foolish.

So, Paul says I can't, I'll...I.. I can't do this to you guys. I will never do this. I'll..I'll never devour you, exploit you, take advantage of you. And because I don't do this to you, you say that I'm weak. Alright, if that's what you say, to my shame I must say, we were too weak for that. That's true, we will never do these things to you.

But whatever else, or whatever anyone else dares to boast of, I am speaking as a fool, I also dare to boast of that. So Paul now puts himself in comparison with the false teachers. He boasts now, he enters the fool's speech. What does he say first?

He says, are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. So he says, I'm a Hebrew of the Hebrews. I'm a Jew by birth, I speak the Hebrew language. I belong to the people of God, the nation of Israel. I believe in the promises that God has given, with regards to or to Abraham about the offspring. I believe these things. So if the false teachers say, they are Jewish, they belong to the people of God, so am I.

So a little bit of a background that is then understood about the false teachers, they are likely from Jerusalem, they are likely Jewish people coming to influence the Corinthians.

And Paul goes on to say, are they servants of Christ? I'm a better one. Now, is Paul conceding that these false teachers are true servants? I don't think so. Because throughout, Paul has been saying that they twist God's Word. Paul has been saying that they lead people to another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel. Paul has been saying quite openly in verse 13 of our chapter that they are false apostles, they are deceitful workmen.

So Paul is not saying, are they really servants of Jesus Christ? But Paul is saying, they are claiming to be servants of Christ. So are they claiming they are servants of Christ? I'm a better one. Huh, now that's why he goes on to use his apologetic note again - I..I understand I'm talking like a madman, I..I, I'm a fool.

So he's going to list out why he's a better servant than these false teachers. And if we do not read on, we might assume that Paul would say, I'm a better servant because I have better accolades, or education, or influence, or size of following, or eloquence. But you know something? Paul never mentioned any of these things. He never mentioned how many churches he's preached to, how many people have been saved under his ministry, how many books he's... a..and so on and so forth. He doesn't talk about these things.

But what does he talk about? He talks about his sufferings. With far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. This is Paul's life. How do you know he's a better servant? Well, look at his sufferings. And he goes on.

Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. The Jews do not allow or do not uh whip people forty times because that is kind of a limit that says you may kill the person. So they give you a little discount, thirty-nine, and Paul has received that five times in his life, total of 195 strokes, probably spread out over a period.

Three times I was beaten with rods. I have been caned in my life. I have been whacked with a belt by my father, but I've never been beaten by a rod. I think that would be severe.

Once I was stoned. And when you are stoned as a Jew, people stone you not just to hurt you, they stone you to kill you. So it's severe stoning.

Three times I was shipwrecked; a day and a night I was adrift at sea. On frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers. He is surrounded with dangers.

There's nowhere that is really safe for Paul. You go to the city, there will be people that will want to assault him. You go to the wilderness, there may be people who are waiting for him. There's no real safety. There.. there's no place where I think Paul could say, I'm going to be safe right here. That's his life.

In toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food. Sometimes he has to fast for the sake of seeking God. Sometimes he has to go hungry because he's just in want; he has no food. In cold and exposure. And apart from other things - there are other things he did not even write down here. But he says, besides the other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

People want to kill him, attack him, lynch him. He has to go through wants and desperate needs, face cold and exposure, shipwrecks and so on. And besides all those around him, he has the care and turmoil within for the people in the churches. Because he says, who is weak and I'm not weak? Who, who struggles and I'm not concerned for him? Who is made to fall? Who has sinned and I..I'm not angry and affected?

So daily I'm afflicted with these concerns. And Paul says, if I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. This is kind of like a catalogue of at least 26 hardships Paul has to face. It's spoken in such a quick fire fashion that is supposed to create a sense of awe and amazement. It's a jaw-dropping moment when we really sit down and understand what Paul has to go through. It's an avalanche of sufferings all at one go.

And Paul is saying, if I must boast, I will boast in my weakness. Some of you must be taking down notes; eh, you talk so long, what's your title? Alright, here.. here's the title.

We.. we've finally come to verse 30 and this is what Paul is speaking of in these verses. He's boasting in his sufferings and weakness. He is forced to boast because the false teachers are boasting, but his boast is of a totally different kind.

They boast about their accolades, they boast about their credentials, they boast about their eloquence, they boast about their authority and the charges or the fees they charge. But I choose to boast of my weakness and my sufferings. Paul, sure or not, you really went through all this or you're just writing your own fanciful fairy tale?

Well, he says in verse 31, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever knows that I am not lying. So he's invoking the Name of God and of His Son, to tell you this is really serious and this is true. I went through all these things.

And then he goes on to say, at Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in the basket, through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

It's a kind of a strange thing but I think Paul is giving a flashback to the very first event of persecution that he faced. An event that is recorded for us in Acts 9 verse 23 to 25. As the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, he was not given any VIP treatment, he was not driven around in some limousine but he was entering into a life of persecution. And he had to escape from people who want his life, quite unceremoniously, in a basket out of a window, lowered just like that.

That speaks of his weakness, that speaks of his lowliness, that speaks of his sufferings and that's what Paul would boast about.

Ten minutes, sermon is done. Well, not quite sermon is done. Exegesis or the explanation of verses is done.

But I'd like to share a few insights about sufferings and about the servant of God and how that all ties up. I mean, that's what we should consider and think about, isn't it? Why, why does Paul boast about his weakness and sufferings? What's so special about it and how do we process what he has written for our daily lives?

1. Suffering is the Path for God's Servants
Well, three things. Number one: suffering is the path for God's servants.

Serving God is not a journey or not a path to fame and glory and ease. You want fame and glory and wealth and ease, then be a businessman. You have a higher chance of that. Be a YouTuber, be a singer, be an actor. If that is what you want, go and seek these career choices.

But if you want to serve God, then you must understand, serving God is a path of sufferings, of sacrifice, of pain and toil and hardship and slander and insults and discouragements.

Of pain, because that's what Jesus spoke about. If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up the cross. The cross - many Christians wear as a fashion accessory - but really the cross is a symbol of suffering and shame as we sing in a song. If you want to follow Jesus, it's a life of suffering and shame or at least you must expect a life of suffering and shame.

Jesus says, any man who loses his life for My sake will find it. The Christian life is not live your best life now; the Christian life is lose your life now. Give up your life to follow Jesus. And just as Jesus went to the cross, we must be ready to go to the cross. If they have persecuted Me, Jesus said, they will also persecute you.

So serving God is not a life that leads you to glam and fame and fortune, but it's a life that calls us to suffer.

I think this is particularly relevant for the apostle Paul. This is what God said to Ananias with regards to Paul. The Lord said to Ananias with regards to Paul, go, for he is - Paul is - a chosen instrument of mine to carry My Name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.

Wow, this is such a great job. How many of you wouldn't want this job? If you are a Christian today, huh, I think you would say, wow this is a fantastic thing. I would be glad to be the chosen instrument of God to carry Jesus' Name before the unknown or to the world that has not known God and to kings and even to the people of Israel. Because a lot of them are blinded, I will be so glad to be that instrument, to be that channel. Alright, I think most of us will say amen to this.

But how many of us would say amen to the next line that Jesus spoke when He said, for I will show him how much he must suffer. Whoops! Sorry, huh..ah, I will come back to you in, in a later time, maybe we'll say to Jesus. Paul's ministry is deeply intertwined, inextricably intertwined with sufferings. That's how God says it, it's the path for the servant of God.

And I Paul, and I think Paul knew this. He understood this, he never departed from this life. He said in Acts 20 verse 24, for, but I do not count my life of any value, nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry. He understood it. And he says in Galatians 6, I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. Whipped 195 times, beaten with rods, stoned.

How different from today? We are so careful about appearance. S..SKII, SPF 100. Wah... so dirty. But not Paul. He says my body bears the marks of Jesus. He says to his protégé, Timothy, share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

You know, we..we live in a culture where we don't like the word suffering, and we don't even talk much about suffering. When we talk about Christian ministry, we.. we talk about, you've got to go to Bible school, you've got to be this, you've got... Nothing wrong with Bible school, it's a good thing to be equipped.

But how many of us really think of ministry as a path of suffering? Very few of us. Because we live in a world that is so good, and so accustomed to feathering our nests. Make sure it's nice and comfortable, paving our way for retirement, so that we can ease off and die comfortably. That's what we are experts at.

Saving up. Making sure no pain, no harm will come to me nor my family. Now I'm not saying you cannot live comfortably, if God has provided the means for you. But I'm saying to you that cannot be your ultimate priority and goal in life, if you are serious about serving God.

We live in a straw... not, not that we all live in, but I'm familiar or I..I understand that there's something called the strawberry generation. Easily bruised. You say a few hurtful words and they get so bruised; they will never come back to ministry. Heeah... he say that about me. And they run off, they quit the ministry and... Why? Because I'm hurt. 你伤了我的感情.

I mean, if you talk to Paul, he must be slandered and maligned and accused, like nothing. I've been in ministry for some years now. I wouldn't say that my suffering level is anywhere close to even one percent of what Paul goes through. I have no marks, no scars. But even if I should face any kind of hardship, accusations, reprimands, insults, all I need to think about is the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul. And I know what I'm going through is nothing. That's normal.

Now if I suffer because I'm stupid, if I suffer because I'm mean to people, I deserve it. But if we suffer for righteousness' sake, if we suffer because of the ministry, I think we can rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer shame in His Name.

So my question to you today is, what is the path you're on? Is your path so protected and immunized from sufferings that it really doesn't look anywhere close to serving God? It more, looks a lot like serving myself. Or is your life, your path, one that is prepared for sufferings? One that does not prioritise comfort and one that perseveres even if you should suffer?

Well the apostle Paul, in his boasts here, certainly teaches us that this is the normal path. It's not.. it's not rare, it's not unusual.

2. Suffering is the Preparation for God's Servants
But just in case you think that these sufferings are so meaningless and use..useless, I..I'd like to present a second perspective. And that is: suffering is the preparation for God's servants. They are not useless, they are not meaningless; they're actually very useful.

I like to watch sushi, not sushi. I..I like to watch cooking shows. I like to watch how people become chefs. What chefs do, what do they go through? I..I guess it's quite similar to what a pastor does. A pastor prepares a dish for God's people on Sunday morning to eat. And so I kind of see some similarities there.

And I understand that sushi masters in Japan, not Singapore - a lot of them Fake Os but... Er, Japan, wah real sushi masters, their time for training is very, very long. And they do a lot of seemingly menial and meaningless tasks - washing things and so on. And then they graduate to cooking rice, and even the preparation of rice I hear, takes years to perfect.

I..I was wondering, how come so stupid, cannot learn so fast, must take years. But, alright, I..I..I do not know, but I'm sure an apprentice would feel, wah, this is meaningless suffering. But the master knows that this is not meaningless suffering. This is a necessary journey to prepare you so that you can be a real sushi master someday.

I suppose the sufferings Paul had to go through are not meaningless, they are useful. But where do you see that in 2 Corinthians? It's not easy for us to see it because we have been looking at 2 Corinthians bit by bit by bit in order to explain and understand. But for the Corinthians, when Paul wrote this letter, it was not meant to be read in such broken up chunks. So we got to understand that.

They are supposed to read the letter, I think, in one shot. So as the church gathers, the leader would take this epistle, this letter from Paul, reads it from the beginning to the end. And probably they'll read it over several weeks and months because it's so valuable and precious to them. So over and over again, they'll read the epistle and they'll be familiar with what is in front, what is in the middle, what is the end, and they can chain up the message as a consistent whole.

Something that is difficult for us because we've been looking at Corinthians in chunks, as I've said, over the months. But I think Paul does tell us, why sufferings are a preparation or an equipping process for God's servants. He actually begins his letter with these (inaudible). Now uh again forgot to quote Tozer. He said, it is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.

Sufferings, according to Tozer, is a necessary preparation for the servant of God. How? Paul says, in the beginning of Chapter 1, he says, if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. So Paul actually begins with the motif or the theme of suffering. That's how he starts his letter. How many of you writes a letter and say, wah, I suffer so much? Not so many, I suppose. But Paul does. That's his main idea throughout this book.

And he says, my sufferings are not meaningless. When I'm suffering, it is ultimately for your good, for your comfort and salvation. And he goes on, actually verse 4 earlier, he said, God comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction. So Paul's mindset is these sufferings actually allow us to then experience God's comfort so that now with this experience, we are better able to minister to you.

Tells me that actually we all are self-centred by nature. We, we think a lot about ourselves. And we don't effectively minister to people until God builds that sense of empathy and compassion in us when we ourselves suffer and when we ourselves are comforted. Then God turns a self-centred man to look at things outside beyond himself.

I think, therefore Paul is saying in these verses, sufferings are not accidental, neither are they incidental but they are intentional. As John Piper said, a thousand sorrows prepare a man to preach. So God's goal is never that we should be comfortable, but God's goal is that we should be comforters, effective comforters and that's why - sufferings.

Another reason why sufferings are necessary is given to us also in Chapter 1, when Paul says, we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength. This is about an incident in Asia, that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. We, we felt that this is it, we are going to go. We are not going to live on. And then he said, but, huh.. we went through that. Why? It's painful, yes but why? But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

So if sufferings cure us somewhat from our self-centredness, sufferings also cure us from our self-reliance. We are so good at depending on ourselves. We are so good at finding resources ourselves. You know Singaporeans, we are super well resourced, isn't it? You have your savings, you have your investments, you have your CPF, you have your MediShield, ElderShield, a lot of shields. You are very shielded. You are very protected. You have your friends, your neighbours, you have so many layers of support. And we almost think we can live our lives without God.

And then God gives you something that even all the money in the world would not be able to solve. And it humbles us. And over and over again, the witness of God's people is that when they go through sufferings that they cannot handle, they learn to turn to God, they learn to pray, they learn to be more dependent.

Sufferings are never wasted in God's kingdom. Sufferings are not accidental nor incidental, they are intentional, to cure us from self-centredness, to cure us from self-reliance.

And that, again, is Paul's idea later on in Chapter 12 which we are going to look at soon, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

So this is a necessary journey - sufferings - if you are serious about serving Jesus. And this is actually a helpful journey. It prepares you, it equips you, it perfects you. You may not all go to Bible school, but we will all go through the school of suffering so that we may be better servants of God.

3. Suffering is the Proof for God's Servants
Finally, I say, I think the other perspective I'd like to share is that suffering is the proof for God's servants. How do you know you are the servant of God? In a very interesting way, Paul does not resort to any academic achievements or even ministry accomplishments or his own eloquence. He doesn't turn to any of these things, but he boasts really in his sufferings.

And this, again, is not just here in 2 Corinthians 11 but throughout the book. In Chapter 4, he gives this list. In Chapter 6, he gives another list which is also about sufferings. In Chapter 11, this is the longest list in 2 Corinthians, we have just read it. And then in Chapter 12, he talks about the thorn in the flesh.

So Paul has been giving out the lists of sufferings. And he says in Chapter 6, for example, as servants of God, we commend. The word there means to demonstrate, to prove, to exhibit, to show that we are the servants of God. How? As we endure afflictions and hardships and calamities.

And then, perhaps you will be reminded of this imagery of jars of clay. You see, that's the problem. We, we looked at this passage some months back and you kind of forget. But if I were to mention it again, you'll recall Paul saying that we are actually jars of clay. We have a precious treasure, the Gospel, the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is found in weak, vulnerable, fragile instruments - men, that are like jars of clay.

Why? So that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. So that if there is any people, anyone who is saved, we know it's not because of this fragile jar of clay, but because of the supreme treasure of the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And when we go through hardships and when we come forth victorious, we know that it is not because we did it, not because we were stoic and strong, but because it is God who empowers us as we go through these sufferings.

So God delights to use weak, vulnerable men because it shows the power of God. So how do you know you are a servant of God? I'm weak, I'm vulnerable, I suffer and yet I endure. That is what the world needs to know. It's the power of God, not the natural ability of a man. And that is my greatest credential that I'm a servant of the Lord.

It's a diametrically opposite philosophy from what we are familiar with. I mean, if you want to apply for a job today, what would you say? Would you say, I'm lousy? I do not know how to do this, I do not know how to do that. No, you always on your resume, puts out, put out your best front or your best side of yourself. What you have accomplished, what your academic qualifications are. But in the Kingdom of God, we don't apply to someone who doesn't know us. God knows us and He wants us to know ourselves, to acknowledge ourselves, not to boast of ourselves, but to boast in the power of God.

And Paul goes on to say, always carrying in the body the death of Jesus. Why? Why do we suffer? So that the life of Jesus, the power of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies. Verse 11: for we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake. We..we suffer. We are given over to death. Why? Why does God put us through so many sufferings? So that you can be seen to be the servant of God as the power of God is demonstrated through your life. That's the greatest proof, as we endure through sufferings.

Again, that's the evidence we gather in Chapter 4. But if we go a little bit further, another imagery that you would have forgotten, but if I show the picture you'll be reminded again, and that is the picture of the triumphal procession. Remember that? Paul speaks about this Roman triumphal procession.

In those days, when a Roman general is victorious in war, he comes back with a parade. He will be up front, leading this parade and there will be those who are his soldiers, the treasures that he had won back, and at the end of this parade will be the captives, the prisoners of war. The king, the generals, the..the.. the conquered ones, and they parade these guys so that the Roman crowd would see, wow, look at our general, he conquered these guys. Let's praise our general. So these captives are brought along this train so that the commander will be glorified.

And Paul says that's exactly what I think the Christian minister is about. We are led in a triumphal procession. The idea here is we are led captives. Paul says the apostles, the servants of God, we are like the prisoners of war. We go through hardship. Why? So that the glory is given to our God.

So we who were formerly the enemies of God are now captives in a display that glorifies Him. And that is the paradox of ministry. We would have assumed that serving the King of kings, we should live it up in this life. We should be glorious and glamorous in this life. Nope. The exact opposite happens. In this life when we serve God, we must expect sufferings and weakness and pain. Why? Because it is through these sufferings, weakness and pain that the power of God is most evident. And that is what glorifies Him.

So the glory and power of God is seen through the suffering and weakness of His servants. That's what I said when we preached this Chapter 2. We come back to Chapter 11 today, I think it's the same consistent message Paul is portraying. Again, this is not just 2 Corinthians, but I think also 1 Corinthians, Paul had the same idea.

So let me ask you today in closing, what do we boast about? Do we boast as a church, wah, look at the big building Gospel Light has. Wah, look at the number of people we have. Wah, look at the preacher. Wah, look at this, look at that, look at our YouTube video, look at the missions outreach. Do we boast about accomplishments? Is that really what God wants?

I think that's the culture in the world today, in the churches today. When I hear preachers, pastors talk about themselves, oftentimes it's about how many churches they have planted, how many people are in the ministry, how many books they have written. And after a while, I.. I tend to think that, yah, maybe no choice, every pastor has to introduce themselves that way.

But I think as I look into this text, I realize maybe we have been more discipled by the spirit of the false teachers than the Spirit of God in the Scriptures. If we should boast, let's boast in our sufferings and weakness. But even then, I don't think we should boast unless we really have to.

So what do we boast about? Boast about how good we are? Or do we boast in such a way that really all glories, uh glory is turned to God?

And then the second question I'll just ask in closing and this is the last one, what is your view towards suffering? Perhaps we have been so indoctrinated by the prosperity gospel that we kind of think that God wants all of us at all times to be rich and healthy and successful. And we equate someone who is going through a sickness, someone who has cancer, someone who is going through hardship to be unloved by God, or to be forsaken by God, or to be cursed by God, or because they have no faith in God.

I mean, can you look at Paul's life? Didn't God say that he's My chosen instrument to bear My Name before the Gentiles and the kings and to the children of Israel? But it is also My Word that says he must suffer for My sake. It is too simplistic and indeed unbiblical to think that sufferings are a curse from God.

Look at the life of Jesus. He suffered for us. We are merely following Him, if we should suffer for His Name's sake.

So I pray that as a church, we will not be a people who will absolutely reject suffering. Now, if you suffer for your own sins and mistakes, we deserve it. But if we suffer for the Name of Christ, then the attitude in the book of Acts is that they rejoiced, that they were counted worthy to suffer for His Name's sake.

We have a simple vision statement here at Gospel Light, and it is to be an Acts church for today. There are seven values, I think, captured in this picture. And one of the values is that we should be a people who rejoice in sufferings. You 'siow' ah? Rejoice in sufferings? No, I'm not 'siow'. Huh, I..I think that's what I read in my Bible. Why? That's the path, that's my preparation, and that's the proof that we are the people of God.

I pray that we would have a biblical mindset. I know these things are very counter-intuitive. They are super jarring to a culture like ours today. But I think it's true, and it is right. And may God give you the grace to understand, embrace, and pursue a life with the right goals and the right expectations. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

The Bible says the way of the cross, or the songs goes to say, the way of the cross leads home. What do you mean, the way of the cross? Well, Jesus died for us, paid for our sins, and it is only based on His finished work that we can be reconciled with God and lead and be led home to God.

But it is also true that the journey of the Christian is one of suffering and shame.

I'm afraid too many of us will not have this. We have resolutely determined in our life that we will not suffer and we will not be shamed. And so, we feverishly build up a career, accumulate funds, build up a big reputation for ourselves. So that we will be applauded, so that we'll be adored, so that we'll be liked, so that we can feather our nests.

I say, if that is your goal, you cannot serve Jesus. You can't. No man can serve two masters. No man can serve riches and Jesus together.

Suffering is the path of the servant of God. My friends, today are you prepared for sufferings? Are you making it your ultimate goal to avoid sufferings? And are you quitting simply because of sufferings?

If God has called you, and I believe if you are a child of God, the call to the Gospel is for every single one. We are all to be ambassadors for Christ. Then if you believe it, this will call for an entire reorientation of life, isn't it?

Our Lord Jesus Christ, eternally glorious, laid aside everything - His riches in heaven, became meek, became a suffering Servant to save us from our sins. Even as the Father has sent Me, He said, so send I you. I pray that Gospelighters, we would follow Jesus well.

And so once again, my dear friends, if you're here and you do not know what Christianity is about, let me say this. It's about God sending His Son to suffer and die, to save us from our sins. Jesus did it as the Servant of the Father, so that all glory may be the Lord's. And the Bible commands you today to repent, to turn from your sin, to believe in Jesus and what He has done, and to follow Him.

Lose your life, lose your ambitions in this world to follow Jesus. Because those who lose their life for My sake, will one day find it. May God bless you, we pray.

Dear Lord, we thank You for Your Word and we ask that You bless each one. Some need to be challenged, some need to be saved but we all need to draw near to You.

So may Your Spirit lead us. Though we suffer, yet we rejoice in our sufferings because no suffering is wasted; Your way is perfect. We pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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