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How to Recognize a Man of God, Part 3

2 Corinthians 10:12-13 May 05, 1996 47-70

This morning in our time together in the Word of God, we come back to 2 Corinthians chapter 10. And what a privilege and joy it has been for us to go through this immensely rich epistle. As we come to chapter 10 we are looking at a section of the chapter from verse 7 down through verse 18. I originally thought that I could sort of run through this rather rapidly because there's not a lot of theology here, but as often is the case, the more I began to study it the slower the pace became. We are now in message number three and there will be at least a message number four.

The section in chapter 10 verses 7 to 18 I've titled, "Recognizing the man of God." It is a section in which the Apostle Paul is confronting the Corinthians on the issue of some false teachers who are there. False teachers, as we know, have invaded Corinth, they have intended to destroy the credibility of Paul to do a full-blown character assassination on him so that the people would lose trust in Paul and therefore trust in his theology...they then would become the reigning teachers, they could teach their damnable lies. Satan could overturn the work of God and they could get rich and famous at the same time. That's how false teachers work.

So Paul writes 2 Corinthians to deal with the matter of his own integrity. He wants the Corinthians to know that he is the true Apostle of Jesus Christ, that he is the faithful messenger of God. He wants them to understand how ridiculous it is for them to believe the lies of the false teachers and to be led astray into serious error. So behind this epistle, really, is a very personal motivation. Paul wants his credibility in tact, not for selfish reasons but for the reason that he must continue to be believed as in fact the true Apostle of Jesus Christ. It is crucial that people believe in him as an apostle, or they will cut themselves off from the Word of God which comes through him.

So he is writing here in defense of himself. And it's a very hard thing for Paul to do because he is a very humble man. If given the choice, he would rather say nothing about himself. But in this case he must defend himself for the sake of the continuity of his authority and the teaching of the truth.

In this particular section of chapter 10 verses 7 to 18 he speaks directly about himself as compared to the false teachers. And in so speaking he gives to us some very observable criteria for how you can identify the true man of God, as over against the false. Obviously the church in any age needs to be able to do this because grievous wolves not sparing the flock want to come in and wreak their havoc. As Paul told the Ephesian elders, "After my departure, the wolves are going to come and they're not going to spare the flock." "Satan goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour," and largely works through those who are lying teachers who infiltrate the work of God to destroy it. False prophets have always been around. We are very much aware of that. And we have always been called as God's people to be discerning.

Now if there is anything true about false teachers, anything that marks them out immediately, it is that they are proud. They are self-willed, self-centered, arrogant, self-promoting, self-commending, self-aggrandizing. In fact, as you look at Scripture and you look for all of the passages that deal with false prophets and look for some constant threads that identify them, you always find this matter of pride at the very head of the list.

All the way back in Jeremiah 23 and verse 32, the Lord says through Jeremiah, "Behold, I am against those who have prophesied falsely, declares the Lord, and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting." In 2 Peter chapter 2 the same thing is said, Peter writes and says, "These false teachers speak out arrogant words of vanity by which they entice." Jude 16 says of false teachers, "They speak arrogantly."

And we are not then surprised when we look at the archetypal or prototypical false teacher who would certainly be the Antichrist, the coming man of sin, the coming son of destruction, son of perdition, man of lawlessness and find him described this way in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 4, "He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called God or object of worship. He takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God." Nothing is more characteristic of false teachers than that they are driven by pride.

We find over in Revelation chapter 13 that when the Antichrist appears, he speaks arrogant words, inflated words. Of course, the Antichrist would be described, I suppose, in psychological terms as an ego-maniac.

On the other hand, if it is at all possible to observe a true teacher, a true servant of God by any single characteristic, that characteristic would be humility...humility. So the dividing line, at least that which may be most observable right off the bat is the difference between the pride of the false teacher and the humility of the true. No one was more noble, no one was more potent in his influence, no one had wider effect or impact on the church than the Apostle Paul, apart from the Lord Himself. And yet when Paul spoke of himself in 2 Corinthians, he called himself a garbage pail, he called himself a clay pot, an earthen vessel which was used for garbage. And he said that the amazing reality is that the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, the brilliant blazing transcendent light of the gospel is contained in a garbage pail. That's how he viewed himself. He describes that garbage pail a little more clearly in his letter to Timothy when he writes in 1 Timothy 1, "I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor." He says, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all." In Romans 7 he called himself a wretched man.

And that humility as over against the blatant pride of the false teachers should have been plenty of proof of Paul's true apostleship and integrity. After all, they had experienced Paul up close and personal for nearly two years. After that he had made another visit to them in which he demonstrated again this humility. HOw in the world could they be confused about who the true messenger was when they could see for themselves the blatant pride of the false teachers and the true humility of the beloved apostle? And yet when the false teachers arrived in Corinth, the people listened to them. Many of the people followed them and joined a mutiny against Paul.

So in this epistle he is defending his true apostleship. And part of that defense is going to be his humility and he's going to get into that in this passage. I have a little study place in my house and I mean little, it's just crunched in a little corner, there's a wall right in front of me and two walls on the side and my desk fills the entire space so I can put a lot of books on it. I scoot my little chair in there behind the door which opens to my back and I'm locked into that little place. I like not to have distractions. But my wife prepared for me a major distraction. One day she gave me a gift that she had been working on for months of cross stitching. It's a beautiful little framed cross stitching and on it she cross stitched some little sheep and emblematic obviously of the role of the shepherd, and under it she cross stitched the last words of Micah 6:8, "Walk humbly with thy God." And that is a permanent distraction in front of my eyes. She hung it right here...at eye level when I'm seated. That is a wise wife who understands what is most necessary for the servant of the Lord. And that loving gift is a constant reminder that the most notable virtue for the servant of God is his humility.

The full verse, by the way, from Micah 6:8 says, "He has told you, O man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with thy God." There is no more cherished Christian virtue than humility. What is humility? I'll give you a definition of it. Humility is a true and genuine sense of conviction that one is utterly and completely unworthy of the goodness, mercy and grace of God and incapable of anything of value apart from those divine gifts. I'll read it again. Humility is a true and genuine sense of conviction that one is utterly and completely unworthy of the goodness, mercy and grace of God and incapable of anything of value apart from those gifts.

Again I say, nothing is truer as a mark of a Christian than humility. Nothing is truer as a mark of a messenger of God that humility. Paul in this section before us reminds the Corinthians that they should know the true man of God by his humility.

Now you will remember that Paul has been giving them a number of marks to look for as he compares himself with the false teachers. First of all, the man of God is known by his personal relationship to Jesus Christ and he presented that in verse 7. We've already dealt with it.

Secondly, the man of God is known by his impact on building up the church, he noted that in verse 8. False teachers don't start churches, they just destroy them, for the most part. Paul's ministry was for building up and not destroying, he says in verse 8.

Not only was the true teacher manifest by his relation to Christ, his impact on the church, but thirdly, by his compassion for people. And we discussed that in reference to verse 9 where the false teachers had accused Paul of wanting to just terrify the people, being abusive. And he has to answer that accusation. It is the false teachers that use and abuse and manipulate people for their own ends. It is the true teacher who carries a heart of love and tenderness toward his people.

Fourthly, we saw that the true teacher is marked by his disdain for worldly methods...his disdain for worldly methods. The false teachers in verse 10 accuse Paul of lacking personal presence. He didn't have any charm. He didn't knock you over with his charisma. He lacked that authoritarian bearing. He laced the characteristics of a strong natural leader. And furthermore, his speech was contemptible. He wasn't an orator, he didn't express himself in great rhetoric, he didn't come with human wisdom. He was this simple, homely common man. And they called for worldly charm, personality, charisma, authoritative bearing, strong natural leadership, rhetoric, oratory, glibness and Paul disdained it all. He came in meekness. He came in weakness. He came trembling. He came without human wisdom. He spoke the simplicity of the cross. He came to the not many noble, to the foolish, the base, the common.

So the true man of God is known by his relation to Jesus Christ, his impact in building the church, his compassion for people, and his disdain for worldly methods. And then lastly in our message last time, we said that the true man of God is marked by his integrity. In verse 11 Paul says that, "I am the same whether or present or absent." That's not true of false teachers. They are one thing in front of the congregation, they are something else the rest of the time. Paul is the same everywhere.

Now that brings us to our last point. And I had hoped to get through it this morning, but was unable to do that in the first service, so I won't here. We'll have to save it for our next message. But the last point, and really the sunum bonum of the whole discussion is that the true man of God is known not only by his relation to Christ, his impact on the church, his compassion for people, his disdain for worldly methods and his integrity, but by his humility...by his humility.

And Paul launches into that discussion in verse 12 and continues in it all the way to the end of the chapter. This final section deals with humility. Paul begins in verse 12 by saying, "For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves, but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond our measure but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure to reach even as far as you. For we are not extending ourselves as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ, not boasting beyond our measure, that is in other men's labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows we shall be within our sphere enlarged even more by you so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. But he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord for not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends."

Now that's a very interesting and somewhat complex portion and we'll have to discuss all of it next time, some of it this morning. But as you break it down, what you have there is a discussion of Paul's humility as over against the false teachers' pride. The false teachers demonstrated their pride at every turn. Paul demonstrated his humility at every turn.

Now the tone of this begins to be sarcastic. It is full of irony and sarcasm as he refers to the self-promoting, self-commending, self-exaltation of the false teachers. And what did those false teachers do? They commended themselves. They let their praise be in their own mouths. They measured themselves by themselves. They boasted beyond what they had a right to boast about. They took credit for other men's labors. They were not interested in giving the Lord the glory and the credit. And they cared little for divine approval and everything for human approval. That's how he characterizes them in the flow of that text.

On the other hand, Paul presents the character of a true messenger of God, a true preacher...he is humble and his humility is characterized in five ways that unfold in this text. Number one, humility manifests itself in an unwillingness to compare himself with others...in an unwillingness to compare himself with others. It is characteristic of the false teacher to elevate himself and he does that most frequently by stepping on the back or the neck of somebody else to climb up on top. He wants everybody to know that he is better than this person and better than that person and better than the other person. Paul says in verse 12, "We are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves."

That little phrase "if we...if we are not bold" could be translated "if I do not dare...if I do not dare," is what he's saying. You must...you must understand I am not going to play that game. Don't expect me to respond to this problem in Corinth by coming in there and telling you I'm better than everybody else. And don't expect me to come in there and to defend myself on the basis of their self-commendation, that is on the basis of their criteria. I'm not about to get involved in some kind of a situation where I'm classing or comparing myself with people who commend themselves. False teachers like their names in lights. They want to promote themselves. They want to elevate themselves. They want their picture on everything. They want their name in lights. And whatever it takes to get them into the light, they do. Whatever it takes to elevate them, they will do whether it means assaulting and belittling the Apostle Paul or whoever...slandering someone else. Proud self-commending false teachers will do that. Anybody who stands in their way they will assault, they will attack. And Paul was such.

They would eagerly engage in destroying someone else to elevate themselves. Paul will not. He refuses to engage in their childish game of ego-congratulation. Using their glib tongues and self-confidence and hypocritical personalty they made themselves appear superior to everybody else, including Paul and especially Paul. He wasn't going to play on their field. He wasn't going to fight with their weapons. False teachers operate out of very proud hearts, they love the preeminence. They love the popularity. They love the star status. They love to see their name in print. They love to see their picture, their face in the public view. Such were the invaders into Corinth, self-willed, proud, arrogant, self-promoters passionately seeking recognition. And Paul refused to engage in self-promotion, self-glory.

In fact, he gives no consideration to it whatsoever. In 1 Corinthians chapter 4 he said, "It is of no consequence to me what anybody thinks of me." He said, "It is of no consequence to me what I think of me because even when I am convinced that I'm doing fine, I am not thereby justified." He said, "It is only important to me what God thinks of me."

Their standard was themselves. Look back at verse 12. He says, "But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they're without understanding." In other words, he's saying can you think of anything more stupid than that? Anything more foolish than that? Anything more irrational than that? This mutual self-admiration society is making up its own standards by which it proudly proclaims itself superior to everybody else. It would be one thing if there was an external objective norm by which everybody could be evaluated. But they invent the standard, meet the standard they've invented and then proclaim themselves superior.

You might want to note the word "measure" there. When they measure themselves by themselves, that's the Greek word kanonfrom which we get canon...not the kind you shoot, but the standard, the canon of Scripture. They develop their own standard. Their standard was persona, presence, ethos, you know, charm, charisma, authority bearing, impressive speech, oratory, rhetoric and spiritual experiences, signs, power, success. They were triumphalists, self-centered. That was their standard. They invented it. They measured themselves by it. And in their own minds they succeeded so greatly that they commended themselves above Paul and above everybody else. Paul isn't going to play that game.

When you ask Paul for his credentials, he'll give you this list: sadness, tears, weakness, simplicity, suffering, prison, pain, persecution, all for the love of Christ. His standard was objective and external. Theirs was subjective and internal.

When Paul gives the credentials for his apostleship he doesn't give a litany of his successes. Over in chapter 11 verse 23 he says, "You want to compare me to them? Are they servants of Christ? I more." By what do we know that, Paul? "Well, I'll tell you how you can know it. I've had far more labors, far more imprisonments. I've been beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I've received thirty-nine lashes from the Jews. I've been beaten with rods three times. I've been stoned three times, shipwrecked," and on he goes. Not exactly the credentials that the false apostles established. Paul says I'm not going to play on that field. I'm not going to engage in that kind of repartee. They're just completely foolish. They are without understanding...he says in verse 12...only a fool would measure himself against a self-created standard and then declare himself superior to everybody. By the way, the self-centered and the self-satisfied are always self-deceived.

So, Paul says I'm not going to compete. I'm not going to get on that turf. I'm not going to go with those puffed up arrogant pretenders to Christ and battle over self-imposed standards. The truth of the matter is by their pride and self-commendation based upon standards they themselves invented, they made it very clear that they were void of character, void of truth and void of knowledge. So you see the humility of Paul in his unwillingness to compare himself with others. People who do that manifest pride. Humble people never make those kind of comparisons...never. The standard, frankly, is external and objective and the true man of God knows the standard is Jesus Christ and he never meets it. And so he always knows he's inferior. To get into a discussion about who's the greatest is pointless because he sees himself as the chief of sinners.

Second characteristic of humility, alongside an unwillingness to compare himself with others is a willingness to minister within limits...a willingness to minister within limits. Something else is true about false teachers. They don't want anybody putting limits on their influence. David McKenna wrote an interesting paragraph in one of his books years ago. This is what he said, "Self-styled messiahs are always megalomaniacs. Their sense of mission has no limitation short of conquering the world and conquering it now. At the slightest signal that their efforts are being frustrated, they usually respond with rage and madness. You try to harness a false prophet and they become angry."

I'll never forget one night on quote/unquote "Christian television" when I was the subject of discussion. And a false teacher's response was..."I would like to get my Holy Ghost machine gun and blow his brains out."

When you try to confine the influence of a false teacher, they become enraged because the insatiable desire of their ego cannot be limited. But where you see the true man of God, he is willing to minister within limits. False apostles have no limits to their sphere. They have no limits to their claims. They have no limits to their boasts. They overextend everything in an effort to widen their influence, in an effort to gain to greater prestige, greater fame, greater fortune. They want no limitation. They overstate their giftedness. They overstate their influence. They overstate their impact. They overstate their achievement. They overstate their sphere of ministry. They puff everything up. They inflate everything until it appears to be far greater than it is. They take the credit for it and if you try to stop the expansion, they want to steamroll you. They're insatiable energized by the kingdom of darkness which wants to engulf everything.

No doubt when the false teachers came into Corinth they must have presented the Corinthians with a rather amazing assessment of their prior impact. I mean, at least to gain a foothold they would have had to give some kind of story about what they had done somewhere else. Who knows what they said? They portrayed themselves as more powerful persons than Paul, more erudite than Paul, greater orators than Paul, better to look at than Paul, more successful than Paul with greater influence than Paul. They said they were the ones who had the credentials and he didn't. They had the commendation letters and he didn't. So they paraded a lot of lies to make their case.

What's Paul going to do? Is he going to try to fight on that ground? Is he going to come in and try to match that lie for lie? Paul will not do that.

Verse 13, "But we will not boast beyond our measure." He says I won't do that. I will not say anything that is not true about me, my giftedness, the impact of my ministry, its successes. I will say nothing beyond my measure. Measure meaning literally it could mean a standard of measure, or it can mean a sphere, a field. It also is the word used for a lane in a race. Paul says, "I've run in my lane and I'll tell you what happened in my lane and I won't go beyond that. I'm not going to say anything more than is reality. I'm not going to say more than is accurate."

He so often told the accurate truth about his own heart, feeling himself weak, sinful, inadequate, inept, struggling, depressed, sad, and yet triumphant at the same time. He never boasts about more than the Lord accomplished through him. False teachers do that. They make you think that they are so great and so powerful and so far-reaching and so influential. Paul never boasted beyond our measure, "But within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure to reach even as far as you."

He says, "I don't want to say anything other than the truth about myself, the truth about my ministry. And I want to stay within the measure of my sphere, that is the area where the Lord placed me, where God apportioned to me a measure."

He was sovereignly gifted. He was granted a field of service. He was granted an area. He was granted, if you will, a lane to run in. And that's where he stayed. And he never went out of that. In Romans chapter 1 he tells us, verse 5, that his apostleship was to bring the obedience of the faith to the Gentiles. That he was to go to the Gentiles. At the end of Romans, chapter 15, he says, "I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me, resulting in the obedience of the Gentiles." At the beginning of Romans he says, "I was sent by the Lord to the Gentiles and that's where I have gone and I will not go beyond it and I will not speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in regard to that sphere of service."

He was faithful. He could handle the limits. He didn't need to be bigger than God intended him to be. I remember one of the outrages preachers who has since been discredited morally on television saying, one time, "In my hearing I want to be pastor of the world." Paul had no such desire. All he wanted to do was be faithful to the sphere God placed him in. He was more concerned about the quality of what he did than the size of it. He was more concerned about the excellence of what he did than the success of it. He was more concerned about the depth of what he did than the breadth of it.

Paul doesn't make wild self-congratulatory claims for himself. He doesn't want to show everybody all the great things that he's done. He speaks only of what Christ has done through him in the sphere of his calling, supported by objective evidence and absolutely true. God had sovereignly designed and apportioned to him a measure. That's very, very important. God had given him a specific call and commission to fulfill. And he was content to be there and to do that. He was called to preach the gospel in the Gentile world in unreached regions and there to found churches and build leaders and that's exactly what he did. And he was completely content to do it. In fact, he was overwhelmed at the privilege. He didn't need to be the Savior of the whole wide world or the pastor of the whole wide world. He didn't need to be worldwide famous. He didn't need to go beyond God's plan.

So he says we don't boast beyond our measure. We don't talk about things that haven't happened that aren't true. And we stay within the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure. That's where we labor.

Long ago, of course, when I came to Grace Church, that principle found its way into my mind one day that if I take care of the depth of my ministry, I can leave the breadth of it to God. I knew where God had called me. I knew where He placed me. I knew what I was to do and that was enough. In fact, that's more than enough. God can determine how far and wide it goes. That's for Him to do.

But self-styled messiahs are always megalomaniacs. They want to stop short of nothing but the world and get in their way and they want you removed. Those Corinthians should have been able to know the difference between the false teachers and Paul just at this point, the simple honest apostle who never said anything that wasn't true, who never claimed anything that didn't happen and who had no need to fulfill his ego by an incessant drive to be more famous. Do you know even Jesus Himself, this is really an amazing thing when you think about it this way, even Jesus Himself functioned within very, very narrow limits? Jesus had no problem allowing the Father to limit His ministry.

Let me tell you how it was limited. First of all, it was limited by God's will. Jesus said in John 5, He came to do the Father's will. That's it, nothing more, nothing less. He came to do not My own will but the Father's will. Not only did He come to do the Father's will, but He came to do the Father's will in the Father's time. Several times He says, "My hour is not yet come." It's another way to say the time isn't right. I only do the Father's will only in the Father's time. And, thirdly, only to the Father's people. He said, "I am not come but for the lost sheep of the house of Israel." And even among the Jews it narrowed down and He said to the Jews, "I am not come for those that are well but those that are sick. I am only come to those among the Jews who know they're sinners and are looking for a physician for the soul." He came to do God's will in God's timing with God's people and those among God's people who saw their sin.

And He came also limited to God's message. He never got involved in other issues. He preached always the Kingdom, always the Kingdom, the sphere of salvation, which sinners can enter through Jesus Christ and have their sins forgiven in the promise of eternal life. That was His message. Even after His resurrection for forty days He spoke of things pertaining to the Kingdom.

He was limited to God's will, God's time, God's people, God's message and He was even limited to God's plan. And God's plan was that the gospel would go through the world starting with Jesus and twelve men. He spent most of His life and most of His time with the Twelve. One of them a traitor reduced to eleven. God's plan was a deep and abiding relationship built with eleven men who would turn the world upside down. That's a very narrow approach.

Limited to God's will, God's time, God's people, God's message, God's plan, such precision is frightening to those who want no limits on the sphere of their influence. Paul followed the pattern of Jesus. He did his Lord's will in his Lord's time in his Lord's place with his Lord's message to the people the Lord gave him.

The Corinthians should have seen it. How could they not see it? And he closes verse 13 with this little note, "To reach even as far as you." Part of my sphere included Corinth. My lane ran through your town, he says, all the way to Corinth I came because God had apportioned me that measure. He had measured out that for me. First Corinthians 4:15 he says, "I became your father through the gospel, your spiritual father."

Now they would have to acknowledge this obviously. How thick are these people? In fulfilling his calling in the kanon, the sphere, the realm that God had apportioned to him, he came to Corinth. That was in the plan. Have they forgotten? Have they forgotten that the very existence of the church, their very salvation was predicated on the arrival of the Apostle Paul and the preaching of the gospel? How obvious is that? If they wanted to argue with the legitimacy of Paul's apostleship, and believe the false teachers, then they would have to admit this, that he never should have come, that he was out of line, that he wasn't a messenger of Christ, he wasn't the servant of God, he wasn't the apostle. He should never have come. He should never have preached the gospel. And therefore they shouldn't have been saved and a church shouldn't have been founded. They were illegitimate and so was the church if they believed this.

But wait a minute. They were Christians. They knew that. And there was a church. They were the church. And Paul had been the instrument of God in the saving of their souls through the preaching of the gospel and the consequence building of the church. To deny Paul's apostolic calling, to deny Paul's message, to deny his authority from Christ was to deny the legitimacy of their own identity. Paul says, "Look, we came in God's measured field to you."

How can you recognize a humble servant? He is unwilling to compare himself with others because he has to be compared with Christ and he always falls short. He has a certain sadness and overwhelming sense of failure. The last thing he will do will elevate himself...will be to elevate himself. Secondly, he is willing to limit his ministry, to operate within limits set by God, to be content to be where he is, where God put him.

The other day in the city council meeting Joel Wachs the councilman said to me, "Stay in this city, stay in this city, we want you to stay in this city. Everybody leaves this city. Please stay," publicly.

Well, that is not a divine mandate, but I really appreciated that plea. However, I have had a divine mandate and I told them, I said, "It's interesting when you think about it. My grandfather preached thirty-five years in this city. My father preached thirty years in this city. I've preached thirty-two years in this city. That's ninety-seven years of MacArthurs. I think this is our city." And I am perfectly content with that. In fact, I would be utterly discontent to think that I was outside the field God had placed me in. This is not all about extending me, this is all about obeying Him.

Well, time's gone. And the three best points are yet unspoken. I'll give them to you and then preach on them sometime later. Point three, just so you can write them down, the humility of the true servant of God is manifest by an unwillingness to take credit for other's labors...an unwillingness to take credit for other's labors. And that comes in the next few verses. The fourth point, the man of God is manifest by a willingness to seek only the Lord's glory...a willingness to seek only the Lord's glory. An unwillingness to compare himself with others, a willingness to labor within limits, an unwillingness to take credit for other's labors, a willingness to seek only the Lord's glory. And finally, an unwillingness to accept anything but eternal commend...an unwillingness to seek anything but eternal commendation, an unwillingness to seek anything but eternal commendation.

We'll talk more about those three in our next message. Let's bow together in prayer.

Our Father, again we are reminded of the richness of Scripture and how it touches on every aspect of life in Your Kingdom. This matter of not despising prophesying, it's not despising those who preach, but examining everything carefully. So important. Being aware that false teachers are everywhere seeking to overturn our lives and destroy us, take our joy, our peace, our understanding. Lord, we just have to be so careful. I pray for Your church. I think of the church in former Soviet Union just being hammered by so much false teaching. And the church here in America and all around the world and we ask that You would protect it. Help us to use those marks that are so evident, that are unfolded to us in this great passage. The man of God is known by his relationship to Christ, his compassion for people, and his impact on building the church, his integrity, his humility, all those things. And, Lord, help us to be those kind of people. Show us the path of humility where we don't ever compare ourselves with others and we're willing to accept whatever limits you set on our field of service and serve with all our passion, all our heart faithfully there, privileged to do so. Humble us, Lord, that we might be useful to You, in Christ's dear name. Amen.