Here’s the text for today in the NET translation.
15:17 So I boast in Christ Jesus about the things that pertain to God. 15:18 For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in order to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, 15:19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem even as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 15:20 And in this way I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, 15:21 but as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”
what Christ has accomplished through me… I’m reflecting on Paul’s understanding of his own limitations. In reality we can do nothing apart from Christ and anything good that we produce is merely God’s handiwork on display.
In staff meeting each week the question is asked of us, “What happened this week in your area of ministry that only God could do?” The only right answer is everything! Every good thing is God’s doing! Now I understand the intent of the question, but it would be more accurately stated this way: “Share some of the most extraordinary things that you saw God do this week.” Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox!
This idea of me being incapable of good things — rather it’s Christ accomplishing things through me — requires us to be humbled. Last Sunday in the hallway at church I had a great conversation with a college student who struggles with this idea. He wants to “gut it out’ and push forward in victory. He sees surrender to anyone as a defeat so this is a hard concept for him to grasp. It’s interesting that Paul, who had reason to boast of his great achievements, will only speak of what Christ has done through him. As for me, I often like to think about what God does in spite of me!
I desire to preach where Christ has not been named… Paul is a pioneer, an entrepreneur, wanting to be used of God to introduce Jesus to those who have never heard. He doesn’t want to build on another man’s foundation — his preacher’s heart beats for persuasive evangelism rather than discipleship of someone else’s converts. As Bob mentioned in his sermon on Sunday, we have to know who we are, accept who we are, and be who we are.