“We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you. We are not reaching beyond these boundaries when we claim authority over you, as if we had never visited you. For we were the first to travel all the way to Corinth with the Good News of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:13-14 NLT).
One source offers some additional insight into the concept behind “…the boundaries of the work God has given us” in 2 Corinthians 10:13…
“The picture Paul has in mind may be that of an athletic contest in which lanes are marked out for the different runners. In that case ‘sphere’ should be rendered ‘lane’ (also in 2Co_10:15-16).
In intruding themselves into Corinth, the false apostles had crossed into Paul’s lane, which was the lane that God had marked out and that had brought him to the Corinthians as their genuine apostle. He has no intention of invading the territory marked out for others and claiming their work as his own, as these false teachers were doing. Others understand the Greek word in question to refer to an assigned sphere of authority.'” (1)
So this passage reminds us that it is important to “stay in our lanes” lest we venture outside God’s agenda for our lives. Sometimes we learn the boundary of that agenda when we step outside it and fail in some area of work or ministry. However, we can often learn the parameters of our calling in a far less painful manner by prayerfully addressing the following questions…
- What skills has God has given me?
- What God-given talents or abilities can I develop?
- What do I “see” that others don’t?
- What burdens me?
- What energizes or inspires me?
- What work would I do even if I wasn’t paid for it?
The answers to these questions can often help identify God’s calling on our lives. In contrast, some of the “leaders” who followed the Apostle Paul in Corinth caused great spiritual damage by choosing to enter an arena where they did not belong. Those individuals might have had productive lives and ministries if they had chosen to adhere to the limits that God assigned them. Unfortunately, they exceeded those limits by failing to accurately measure themselves, a decision that led to spiritual injury among the members of the church and additional work for Paul to rectify it.
(1) Dr. Bob Utley, Free Bible Commentary 2 Corinthians [10:13] Copyright ©2014 by Bible Lessons International http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/new_testament_studies/VOL06/VOL06B_10.html