“Word for Today” – 2 Corinthians 11 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

March 12, 2009 at 5:45 am Leave a comment

iron-1I am a man who lives with many irons in the fire.  I have all of the tasks which surround ministry at Concordia:  preparing and teaching Adult Bible Class, working on other Bible studies, preaching, counseling, organizing, and, of course, writing my blog.  I also have all of the tasks which surround my life at home:  cooking, cleaning, shopping, paying bills, taking out the trash, and, most importantly, spending time with family.  Sometimes, it can become dizzying, difficult, and daunting to juggle everything.  That is why I find today’s text from 2 Corinthians 11 to be a comfort and encouragement to me.

The Christian church at Corinth, it seems, had been infiltrated by some “super-apostles” (verse 5) who were calling into question the integrity, veracity, and authenticity of Paul’s ministry.  Their accusation was this:  “Paul preaches the gospel free of charge.  But remember, you only get what you pay for.  Thus, Paul’s preaching must be worthless” (see verse 7).   Paul counters this accusation by reminding the Corinthians that although his gospel may have come for free to them, it has not come for free from others:  “I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you” (verse 8).  Paul, then, was not only a preacher of the gospel, he was a fundraiser for the gospel.  Yet, not even this was the end of Paul’s duties when it came to financially supporting his preaching.  He also worked as a tentmaker to pay the bills (see Acts 18:1-3).  Indeed, he was a man who burned the candle at both ends.  He was a man who had a packed Outlook calendar.  He was a man who lived with many irons in the fire.

The danger of living with many irons in the fire is that, sometimes, multiple obligations can diffuse and dilute critical priorities.  A manager has so many projects to complete at work that he cuts short time with his family.  A nurse is so busy tending to the health of others that she fails to be cognizant her own.  A Christian parent is so busy chauffeuring his kids to various weekend extracurricular activities that time for worship is marginalized.  Paul, however, refuses to allow this to happen, even in the midst of his dizzying schedule and pace.  Nor will he allow it to happen to those he ministers to:  “I am afraid,” Paul cautions, “that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (verse 3).  The Greek word for “sincere” is haplotes, meaning “single-mindedness.”  In other words, Paul calls upon the Corinthian Christians, and all Christians, to be single-mindedly and unswervingly devoted to Christ, his Word, and his gospel even when we have cramped calendars, constant commitments, and abundances of assignments all clamoring for our consideration.  “Irons in the fire” should never douse our fire of faith in Christ and our fire of faithfulness to Christ.  This is Paul’s message.

The origin of the idiom, “many irons in the fire,” goes back to the great church father Origen.  Interestingly, Origen does not use this phrase to describe a person who has too many things to do and cannot juggle all of his respective tasks; instead, he uses it to describe a person who is clearly and wholly devoted to Christ.  Origen writes, “The metal iron is capable of cold and heat.  If, then, a mass of iron be kept constantly in the fire, receiving the heat through all its pores and veins…[it would be] incessantly burning…In this way, then, that soul which, like an iron in the fire, has been perpetually placed in the Word…finally, some warmth from the Word of God must be supposed to have passed” (First Principles, II:VI:6)  Origen reminds us that when we, as Christians, bask in the glow of God’s Word, our souls are heated like an iron in the fire is heated.  In other words, we go from having irons in the fire to being an iron in the fire.  So today, don’t just have irons, be an iron!  And display a fiery faith in Jesus.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 2 Corinthians 10 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 2 Corinthians 12 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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