In defending himself, Paul talks about those who charge a fee to hear their gospel.
5 For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things. 7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? 8 I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; 9 and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.
The phrase “I robbed other churches” seems a bit peculiar, doesn’t it? His meaning here is twofold. He is using the same terminology with which he is blaming these other supposed apostles at the same time he is explaining that he got what he could from other churches so as not to be a burden to them when he planted the church in Corinth. He is using a bit of sarcasm here because he is implying that these other teachers and prophets are merely robbing the church. Even if they are preaching God’s word, they are using it for worldly gain instead of heavenly edification.
Moreso, Paul’s assertion of his pedigree once again is presented. He was taught by the greatest Jewish Rabbi of the time, and became a “Pharisee of Pharisees” as he puts it. His experience and knowledge in the ways of God bring him to an equal level spiritually with the original apostles. In other words, in teaching he is most likely greater than anyone coming by the church to sell them hope. Can you really sell someone hope? Absolutely! But only if it is false; true hope cannot be sold.
In tickled pink, I touched upon the problem our flesh has with growing spiritually. We want the instantaneous gratification of knowing we’re going to be ok. We want a magic pill or a short self-help book or a 5-minute workout that is going to cure everything. The problem with this is it isn’t really how life is designed to work so we are easily deceived into taking the easy way out and are sold a false hope, a false gospel.
We must remember that it is all about a relationship with God. Relationships take time and work and persistence. You can’t develop a strong relationship in a day or week. It takes years to develop. One study I was in said it can take from 9-14 years for a couple to stop thinking individually in a marriage. Have you been in a close relationship with God for that long? Have you put yourself in a position of vulnerability to discover God’s faithfulness and love for you?
In John 10, Jesus says, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. Why then are we listening to the thieves of this world instead of the One who gives abundant life? In Genesis, the Garden of Eden was painted as the most beautiful place on earth. It was abundant with plants and animals and everything was in unity and at peace with one another. This is what God wants to plant and cultivate in your heart. This is the imagery of what can be inside of you, but the enemy doesn’t want this because he cannot have it. He sacrificed it for worldly pleasure and quick fixes that don’t last.
Are you being robbed because you want instant gratification? How is the enemy deceiving you today from the truth of God? How much do you work at your relationship with Him and what can you do today to improve it?