By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! 2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.
BOLD. What connotations does this word bring to mind? First three words you think of are? I think of the color red, LeBron James (since the NBA playoffs are going on) and Rafael Nadal (I wrote part of this last weekend when the French Open was on TV). Whether or not you like the President, he is certainly bold, and, as Paul writes, he is definitely not timid when you come face to face. How about bold characters in the Bible? John the Baptist is the first that comes to my mind. The transformed Peter. How about Moses?
Today’s passage is interesting to me. How can you be timid yet bold? We all know people who’s “bark is worse than his bite”. We all have received cutting emails and then once we have a conversation face to face, things change. I wonder about our next generations and their use of social media. They are oftentimes extremely bold in statements, pictures, actions, yet face to face communication is not a skill. A bit scary to me. As you think about the world today, are you bold or meek or both?
In the case of Paul, he has written bold letters to Corinthians, writing as an apostle for Christ. He is trying to convey his strong messages to the strike fear in the people, such as in his letter of warning in 1 Corinthians. He is bold in trying to convince the people to follow God’s ways. To take the instruction he is giving to heart. To change their ways. He writes these letters in a bold manner, yet he admits he is timid and has a gentleness in him, almost holding him back from preaching the Gospel in a live setting. Many of us have that problem: public speaking is not our thing and we have to convey our thoughts in writing. Are we as bold as we can be in telling others about our beliefs? Or are we meek when face to face?
So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 1
Paul fully understands how he is perceived by others. He wants to be convincing, not scary. He then goes on to talk about not comparing ourselves to others, noting we should not boast. I go back to one of my posts on judging others. We should not be judging others as God is truly the only one offering final judgment. It is the same with boasting and comparing ourselves to others. God made us all unique individuals. We should not boast that we are better than others, nor should we spend time comparing ourselves to others. We should be focusing on living out God’s word, following his instructions, following Paul’s guidance to us.
I think this verse says it all: 7 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[b] 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
Will you be bold enough to boast in the Lord today?