Often people remark on my use of words in my speech. Some of my former teachers have said that their vocabularies got expanded when they worked for me. That was not my intention. Another time, I was praying out loud in a group where people were praying out loud about a specific situation. I did not pray a long prayer, but directly afterwards a man prayed making reference to not praying with high, lofty language. That hurt my feelings, actually. It was not my intention then to be pretentious or snooty. It is just that I absolutely love the English language, and words fascinate me. I love to learn new words and use new words. When I do so, it is in no way meant to connote a "better than thou" attitude.
In a little over a month I am going to Peru. In talking about the trip with another who is going, he talked about the difficulty of working through an interpreter, something I will have to do and have never done. What he was trying to say in a kindly way, without coming out and saying it, was "Gena, you are going to have to pare down your words." He is exactly right.
The apostle Paul begins chapter 2 as an extension of the end of chapter 1, where he ended by talking about doing everything we do for God's glory, not for our own. In that context, we find 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NKJV).
Because Paul was a very educated man, he could have come to Corinth and beguiled the people with flowery speech and clever arguments. (There are places in Scripture where he DID do this, because it was appropriate for the occasion. One that comes to mind is when he persuaded the Greeks about "the unknown god" at the Areopagus in Acts 17:16-34.) The point is that Paul, while in Corinth, submitted his own natural inclinations, which flowed from his God-given gifts, to make sure that he did not get in the way of the gospel message. In retrospect, I should have done the same that day when I was praying in public with people who did not know me; and, I should do that when I go to teach in Peru next month.
Secondly, Paul did not depend on his own strength or knowledge to get the gospel message out with integrity and purity. He knew that only the Holy Spirit could do that. He was determined to "get out of the way" and let the Holy Spirit flow in, through, and out of him, so that his words would be a demonstration not of his power, but of the power of the Spirit. His earnest desire was that the people's faith would be rooted in and strengthened by the power of God. Yesterday, we talked about humility; this is a prime example, right here.
Paul's aim was to focus on the cross of Jesus Christ, His crucifixion, burial and resurrection. This is the heart of the gospel. Paul wanted to make sure that the Corinthians heard it loud and clear. After all, Paul's desire was to produce Christians, not "Paulians". Warren Wiersbe, in his New Testament commentary, tells the story of a church that had a beautiful stained glass window, depicting Jesus on the cross, right behind the pulpit. One Sunday, a guest minister came to preach; this man was very short in stature. A little girl asked her mommy during the service, "Mommy, where is the man who usually stands there so we can't see Jesus?"
Boom! Move over! All of us need to make sure that we don't stand in the way of others seeing Jesus, don't we? The modern church in America is currently in love with gimmickry. We must do this or do that so that people will come to church. Well....no. We would be much more effective for the kingdom of God if we instead fell down on our faces in prayer, begging God to do His perfect work, and then resolved to get ourselves out of the way so that Holy Spirit can do the work He wants to do in the first place.
Lord, we call you that, but we often make ourselves "lord". Basically, we need to "get over ourselves". Please give us discernment. Help us to recognize when we are in the way of Your Spirit and the work He wants to do, in any given situation. We are so blinded, most of the time! At least, I know I am. Please help us, Lord. Use us, in spite of ourselves, for Your glory. In Jesus' name, amen.
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary. 2nd ed. Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2007. 458. Print.