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The Scriptorium

Boasting in Grace

As we all should. 2 Corinthians 1.12-14

2 Corinthians 1 (4)

Pray Psalm 142.1-3.
I cry out to the LORD with my voice;
With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare before Him my trouble.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Then You knew my path.
In the way in which I walk
They have secretly set a snare for me.

Sing Psalm 142.1-3 (5, 6).
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
With my voice, O LORD, I cry—hear my plea for mercy, LORD!
My complaint mounts up on high, bringing You my troubled word:
Refrain vv. 5, 6
LORD, You are my Refuge strong! O receive my plaintive song!

When my spirit faints away, You my falt’ring pathway know;
where I take my journey they traps have hidden to my woe.

Read 2 Corinthians 1.1-14; meditate on verses 12-14.


1. How did Paul conduct himself in the world?

2. What was his boast?

Paul invites the Corinthians to examine his motives in ministering to them. He did nothing merely to gratify the flesh; that is, personal advantage or pecuniary gain was never a consideration in any of Paul’s work. His conscience was clear because his motives were always pure and virtuous, considering first the truth that is in Christ Jesus, and with that, the spiritual interests of the Corinthians. He conducted himself and his ministry in the grace and truth of God, and not by the ways of the world.

And this was his great boast, not that he accomplished anything but that the grace of God abounded through his labors to the people of Corinth (v. 12). Only the grace of God was able to accomplish the work Paul did in Corinth—the many conversions, a new church founded, leaders appointed, and more. Paul could look at that work without letting his ego get in the way. He knew it was the work of Jesus, building His Church precisely as He had said He would (Matt. 16.18).

And he encouraged the Corinthians to boast in him, that is, in the grace they experienced through his faithful labors (v. 14). When Jesus returns, all the boasting and rejoicing and celebrating will be toward Him, because of the grace He has shown in creating, keeping, saving, sanctifying, preserving, and glorifying us as a people for Himself. Since this will be our boast then, let it also be our boast today and every day.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Paul was able to say, without boasting in himself, as the psalmist did:
“Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word.”
“Let those who fear You turn to me, those who know Your testimonies.”
“Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes, that I may not be ashamed” (Ps. 119.74, 79, 80).

Paul and the psalmist were able to say those things because their consciences were clear and clean before the holy God. They knew God’s Law (Ex. 20.1-17) and they both strove to keep it. Not to be saved, but because they were saved (one through believing the promise of salvation and the other through experiencing it first-hand).

As we recall, Paul was bold to say, in the knowledge of his good conscience, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11.1).

We, like Paul, by the “grace of God” (2 Cor. 1.12) can enjoy a good conscience, if, in fact, keeping the Law of God and studying His Word to know Him, is first and foremost in our minds and intentions.

Wisdom/Jesus cries out:
“Now therefore listen to me, my children,
for blessed are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life,
and obtains favor from the LORD;
but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
And those who hate me love death” (Prov. 8.33-36).

God’s Words are not futile or idle words, they are our life (Deut. 32.47).
And when they are the essence of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, our conscience will be clean.
And when it is not, we need only seek His gracious forgiveness and start afresh—clean conscience in tow.
“Thank You, Jesus, for making that possible! Boasting only in Your grace.”

For reflection
1. What is the conscience? What role does the conscience fulfill in your soul?

2. Paul said he had a “good” conscience? How can you know if your conscience is “good”?

3. How does the Word of God help us in having a “good” conscience? How do you know when the Word is speaking directly to your conscience (Heb. 4.12)?

Conscience witnesses concerning the steady course and tenor of the life. Thereby we may judge ourselves, and not by this or by that single act. Our conversation will be well ordered, when we live and act under such a gracious principle in the heart. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1.12-14

Pray Psalm 142.4-7.
Cast all your burdens on the Lord. Call on Him to give you a clear conscience so that you may serve Him this day in simplicity and godly sincerity.

Sing Psalm 142.4-7.
(Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
LORD, look to my right and see: None takes notice of my plight.
Is there refuge left for me? Is my soul out of Your sight?
Refrain vv. 5, 6
LORD, You are my Refuge strong! O receive my plaintive song!

Hear my cry, LORD, I am low! They are strong who seek my soul.
Jesus frees from every foe; He will keep and make me whole!

Out of prison lead me, LORD; thanks and praise to You shall be.
Righteous men armed with Your Word will Your grace bestow on me.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Growing in prayer
Growing in Christ begins in and is sustained by prayer. But how can we improve our prayer life so that we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord? Our free online course, “Perspectives on Prayer”, can lead you to a deeper and more satisfying prayer life with the Lord. Watch this brief introductory video, then enroll for the course and download the materials. Get a friend or two to go through it with you and strengthen one another for the work of prayer.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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