I appreciate the ministry of Ray Stedman, former pastor at Peninsula Bible Church (Palo Alto, CA), now deceased. Was privileged to hear him at DTS many years ago. This was taken from the daily devotion by email today:
"For I am not in the least inferior to the super apostles, even though I am nothing." (2 Corinthians 12:11b)
Hidden in verse 11 is a remarkable paradox that is possible only for those who are true servants of Christ. Notice how Paul puts it: I am not in the least inferior, he says; and then in the next phrase, even though I am nothing. One statement is, I am the equal of anybody; I am not inferior at all to these superlative apostles; I have everything they have and more, while at the same time he can say, yet I am nothing. That is the mark of a true servant of Christ: the ability to say both of those things and for both of them to be equally true. When Paul says, I am not inferior, he means, Everything I am in Christ, everything that Christ can do through me, makes me equal to anything they can do.
This is the attitude that all Christians ought to come to about themselves: I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). If God tells me to do something, I can do it. I can obey His word, I can follow His precepts. I can do what He asks. There is a ringing note of confidence because you are not relying on yourself, but on Christ. At the same time the apostle could add, Relying on myself, I am nothing. All my abilities, my gifts, and my natural talents won't get me anywhere in God's sight. They are impressive to other people, and I could fool a lot of people this way, but they are not at all impressive in the eyes of God.
I wish I could get a lot more Christians talking this way today, willing to say, if Christ tells me to do something or to be something, then there is no limit to my ability to do or be it, because He will provide the power. But in myself, trying to do anything depending on my gifts, I will accomplish nothing of any value in God's sight. Now that is the mark of a true servant of Christ! One of the ways you can test the false apostles of our day is to listen carefully to what they say about themselves. Do they claim anything is coming from them? Do they claim to be remarkable people of remarkable ability, or are they talking about the power coming from Christ? That is the big difference. By this, these Corinthians should have recognized Paul.
Lord, thank You that even though I am nothing, I can do all things through Christ.
Life Application: Do we have growing confidence in the power and Presence of Christ in us, so that self-esteem is becoming a non-issue?
Related Message: This daily devotion was inspired by one of Ray's messages, "The Signs of an Apostle."