In 2 Corinthians 10 Paul is still receiving backlash and accusations from the false apostles and teachers and they are still influencing part of the church at Corinth. Paul’s approach at first is to appeal to them with humility by greeting them with a humble appeal approach “by the gentleness and graciousness of Christ” but he immediately finishes his sentence with an ironically aggressive challenge of “don’t make me come down there” by answering back to their accusation of him being ‘weighty and powerful in his letters, but weak in presence and despicable in public speaking’. No doubt those were hurtful words, but in his defensiveness, he tries to set the record straight by saying “I who am humble among you in person but bold when I am absent. I beg you that when I am present, I will not need to be bold with the confidence by which I plan to challenge certain people who believe we are behaving in an unspiritual way.” This is where he reminds them (and us) and probably even himself that we fight with spiritual weapons and not physical worldly weapons.
I can’t help but contrast Paul’s approach with what we just read about Moses when his authority was challenged in Numbers. Moses fell face down in humility in front of them all and then he spoke the words of God in boldness to challenge them. He didn’t defend himself. He simply told them “Tomorrow morning the Lord will reveal who belongs to him.” This placed all it all on God and proved his confidence in God that he would handle it. Paul called himself ‘humble’, but then he powered up and defended himself. He even made a point of threatening them with his plans to challenge the false apostles and teachers as if to make a point to prove to them that he wasn’t ‘weak in person’. He was just holding back because he was being humble. This is ironic and I’m not making accusations against the apostle Paul, but he was human just like the rest of us and just like we learn so much from his strengths, we can also learn from his weaknesses too. He obviously knew that humility was the right approach, but like all of us, he probably struggled with it. It’s hard not to defend yourself in the face of false accusations. Pride rises up and we want so badly to make it right, but God tells us that vengeance belongs to Him. Like Moses, if we humble ourselves and point people to God, He will be our defender, and if necessary, he will take vengeance on our behalf. This has been a struggle of my own. I can’t stand to be misunderstood or misinterpreted. I can’t stand it when people try to speak what they believe I am thinking. I want so badly to defend myself but without the Holy Spirit my defensive words fall on deaf ears and make me look even more desperate. I need the humility to allow God to speak to my heart (because who knows, some of their words just might be partially accurate and I might need to adjust something) but what is not accurate God will set right in his timing.