The Final Say

Rebecca Van Noord

Having the final say in an argument is more satisfying than I’d like to admit. By default, I’d like to be right, even if I have to be pedantic. I wish I could say this was limited to petty concerns. But on more than one occasion, when discussing issues of eternal significance, I’ve used my trump card in a desire to win an argument.

Paul specifically addresses this type of pride and boasting throughout 2 Corinthians. However, we come across a surprising statement in 2 Corinthians 1: “For our reason for boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, in holiness and purity of motive from God, not in merely in human wisdom, but by the grace of God” (2 Cor 1:12).

At first glance, Paul appears to be boasting in his own actions. Isn’t this evidence of the very same pride he denounces (1 Cor 5:6)? But the key phrases, “holiness and purity of motive from God” and “the grace of God,” provide a foundation for Paul’s boasting. They tell us that it’s not Paul’s pride that is on the line—it’s the good news. Paul is claiming that the integrity of his ministry doesn’t rest on his own wisdom.

Paul wasn’t trying to be a star pastor. His words were motivated by a deep concern for the Corinthians. He didn’t want anything he did to obstruct the message about Christ. Similarly, our actions shouldn’t be an obstruction to the gospel message. We should examine our motives when we’re inclined to be “right.” Our words and actions should reflect God’s grace in our life—evidenced by humility and a sense of purpose in our interactions with others.

How are your words and actions speaking about your own pride? How can you be testifying about God’s grace in your life?

Barry, J. D., & Van Noord, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.