The Apostle Paul cared deeply for those in his stead. In fact, Paul would often mention to the various churches he had planted in his letters that he was thankful for them and that he often made mention of them in his prayers to God.
Because of his love for the people of God, Paul ultimately found himself caught in the midst of one dilemma.
The English punk rock band, The Clash, echoed about Paul’s conundrum in 1982 in one of their most iconic songs — “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Paul longed to be with Jesus and yet he knew that if he remained on earth, it would be a great blessing to those he was ministering to (see Philippians 1:21-24).
It was this kind of care and zeal for God’s people that lead Paul to write the following words in his second letter to the Corinthians: “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy” (see 2 Corinthians 11:2).
Which begs the question: What was Paul jealous about?
What was going on at the time of this letter that would result in his using such strong language?
What was his concern?
Let’s read on…
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. — 2 Corinthians 11:3
This verse evokes a couple of questions…
How was Eve deceived?
What does it mean to be simply and purely devoted to Jesus?
We find our answers in Genesis 3.
Early within the fabric of the story of mankind, we are confronted with a God who allows those whom He created to choose. This is the reason why there are two trees in Eden — the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The choices that we make ultimately determines who or what we love most.
Adam and Eve had a choice — love and choose God or love and choose themselves.
Disobedience is not an obedience issue. It’s a love issue (see John 14:23).
The enemy’s number one goal is to get you to love something more than God. This is where the greatest warfare is found.
In an effort to bring God and His character into question and in an effort to strike doubt in Eve’s mind about whether or not she was made in the image of God, the serpent brought into question what God had told this woman and her husband would happen to them if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
As a result, we see how Eve was deceived and how she was led astray from being simply and purely devoted to God.
She saw that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was desirable to make one wise (see Genesis 3:6).
Eve was tempted by all that is in the world (see 1 John 2:16) — the lust of the flesh (she saw it was good for food), the lust of the eyes (it was a delight to the eyes), and the pride of life (it was desirable to make one wise).
In other words, Eve saw what the tree could do for HER.
In an instant, she was led astray from being simply and purely devoted to Jesus to being devoted to herself.
This was Paul’s concern.
He was concerned that people would be led astray in the same manner Eve was through this one thing: “For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached…” (2 Corinthians 11:4).
I believe Paul’s uneasiness centered around the fact that in the same way Eve saw what the tree could do for her, people have preached a Jesus that serves them.
Coming to Jesus for what He can do for you is the wrong sell. It’s self-serving.
If we preach that people should come to Jesus because of what He can do for them, we ultimately keep the problem alive: SELF.
This is what it means to preach another Jesus.
This causes many people today to simply love Jesus for what He can do for them rather than loving Him for who He is.
This kind of love is grounded in “sign seeking” — a mistake the religious leaders made.
When we love Jesus for what He can do, we make Him our divine slot machine.
The Jesus Paul preached was a Jesus who came to save sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15).
My sin was crucified along with Christ so that I could be made new, born again, become a new creation!
He died to put His life in me! I’m saved by His grace, not my efforts! I have been forgiven much! My debt has been paid!
This is why we love Him!
The gospel is an invitation to die so that you can truly live! It’s a heralding to dethrone yourself so that God can take His rightful place!
When I love Him for who He is… that’s what causes me to be simply and purely devoted to Him.
I am not betrothed to a miracle or a sign and a wonder. I’m betrothed to Him. (see 2 Corinthians 11:2).
Let’s face it… a marriage that’s based on what one can do for the other won’t last long. A marriage that’s based on love, however, will endure.
When I see what He did on that cross, I see who He is!
This is why I love Him. This is why I’m devoted to Him.
Don’t be deceived by the craftiness of the enemy during this time. Don’t let him lead you astray.
We love God not for what He can do. We love Him for who He is.
Spend time today, tomorrow, and as often as you can, thinking about Him and pouring out your affection on Him.
- Brian Connolly, Faith Like Bird Ministries