medal of commendation December 1 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Corinthians 2:12–7:3

Commendation; Getting Support

We all want to be valued for our character and our deeds. What do we do when we feel disrespected or undervalued? Do we need to toot our own horn to get some attention? The Apostle Paul sometimes felt disrespected and devalued. What did he do?

In today's Bible reading, we see that the Corinthians (citizens from the city of Corinth in first century Turkey) had some association with false prophets or teachers who served for material gains. Paul assures them that the motive for his ministry is not like that. He says, “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God” (2 Corinthians 2:17, NIV).

Why do we serve God and people? Is it primarily to reap material benefits or to carry out the will of the Lord? Do people know that our focus is to fulfill his will and to serve them? If we want people to trust us and we want a commendable reputation, we be honest and have integrity. And, most importantly, we must do everything with their best interests at heart.

Paul loathes boasting. He believes the “proof” of his ministry “is in the pudding” to use a colloquial saying. In other words the proof of their ministry is in the results. Paul asks,

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:1-3, NIV).

What proof do we have of the value of our contributions? Are people being changed for their good by following our example or teaching?

Paul is bold in his speech, but some people interpret his boldness as arrogance. He admits his speech is bold, not because his confidence is in himself, but because of his confidence in the message God gives him to deliver—a life-changing, glorious message (3:6,12). What impression do we leave with people; that our confidence is in ourselves or in God and his message? Paul’s focus is not on himself. He says, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake” (2Corinthians 4:5, NIV).

When we read all the things Paul suffered to bring the gospel to people without much recognition or praise, we might ask, “Paul, how did you do it? Did you not get discouraged and want to quit?” We might ask him this because there are times of discouragement in our lives when we wonder if we are making any progress. Are the work, pain and disrespect worth it? Paul faced this, too. We cannot always change others, so we must work on our own attitudes. He explains,

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 4:1-2, NIV).

Mercifully, the Lord gave him this ministry. Before he was converted, he was a very religious and zealous Jew, a Pharisee, but he was spiritually lost. After he was converted, although he suffered and was not always respected, he refused to lose heart.

In times of discouragement, we, too, must remind ourselves that God gives us ministries to fulfill, whether it means in our church, family, or in our community. We must counsel ourselves to not lose heart but keep maintaining good character and deeds. In a previous letter Paul writes, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).

Paul suffers much for the gospel ministry. He and his companions are constantly persecuted and given over to death. He does not count his life dear to himself, however; he knows that if his earthly body is destroyed, he will have a spiritual body and be in the presence of Christ (2Corinthians 5:1).

Through God’s grace, Paul and his companions survive and carry on the ministry for the sake of the Corinthian believers and others. His goal and that of his companions is to please God by their lives or their deaths. They know all Christians will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an answer for every deed on this earth, whether good or bad, useful or useless (5:10), and so they live to please him. For this reason, Paul and his companions try to persuade men to repent and live for God. They have a ministry of reconciliation. They are ambassadors of Christ to reconcile people’s relationships to God so they might have eternal life. What is God's mission for our lives? Are we fulfilling it? How do we view our lives?

In spite of all that Paul and his companions suffer and the love he shows them, the Corinthians are still unsure about him. They withdraw from Paul. After explaining his mission and ministry from the Lord, Paul pleads with the Corinthians not to withdraw but to open up their hearts wide and accept him.

It is unfortunate, but sometimes we also have to remind people of all we have done for them and ask for their support. People forget. People can be inconsiderate and disrespectful and even loathe what is good for them. We may recall that even God had this problem with Israel, as recorded frequently in the Old Testament books of the Bible.

God was extremely patient with the Israelites, and God is patient with us as well. Have we forgotten the good which he has brought us through our parents, teachers, pastors, or friends? We, too, need reminders of God’s grace and providence in our lives, and we need to be grateful. Let us thank someone today for the input he or she had in our life.

Lessons to Live By

How do we commend ourselves?

  • We must work with people in honesty and integrity, and we must do everything with their best interests at heart. Our focus is to carry out the will of the Lord, not to please ourselves. Let us be servants not lords.
  • We will be rewarded for fulfilling God’s will if we seek to please him and persevere in good character and deeds.
  • Because people are forgetful, occasionally, we may need to recount the acts of service which we have done for their benefit, as God sometimes does with us. We may also need to ask for their support.
  • Let us be grateful for God’s grace in our lives and those who are ministering to us.
  • Do you want to experience God's saving grace in your life? He can give you forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

Focus Verse

2Corinthians 5:9-10 (NIV)

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to

A Look Ahead: Because of God's grace in our lives, and the needs of others, we need to Give Generously. Find out more in our Next Lesson.

Previous Lesson  |  Next Lesson

Back to top of page
Return to Chronological Bible Studies main page
Go to Scriptures main page
Go to Topics main page
Go to Home page

Contact Us