In studying 2 Corinthians it gets a little confusing trying to determine whether or not receiving a commendation is a good thing or a bad thing. In the following places it appears to be a bad thing:

  • 3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? (Expected answer appears to be, “No.”)
  • 5:12 We are not again commending ourselves to you….
  • 10:12 For we are not bold to … compare ourselves with some … who commend themselves.

On the other hand, the following passages seem to indicate that being commended is OK:

  • 4:2 … we have renounced the things hidden … commending ourselves.
  • 6:4 but in everything commending ourselves….
  • 12:11Actually I should have been commended by you….

It comes as no surprise that the definitive passage is 10:18, “For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.”

Self commendation is an exercise in futility because it relies upon a human standard. Being commended is acceptable, even if it is done by self in certain circumstances, as long as the Lord and His Kingdom form the basis for the commendation.

What is surprising is the criterion for commendation. I’m afraid that many religious people assume that we will receive a commendation from the Lord because of what we know. After all, that is why we are the Lord’s special people, right? We know all of the right answers. We have not fallen into religious error as so many others have. (Our Kingdom inactivity is irrelevant because of our superior knowledge).

This passage (2 Corinthians chapter 10), however, clearly emphasizes that the Lord will commend His people on the basis of what they do rather than because of what they know. The real questions will be, “Did we faithfully make the gospel known, instill faith, nurture people, and form Christ in others?”

If we turn to the words of the Lord Himself, one of the few passages in the entire Bible that gives us clear insight into the criteria for the judgment of human beings (Matthew 25:31-46), we are once again confronted with this stark reality: human judgment will not be based on what we know but, rather, on what we do.

In short the issue will be, “Did we give ourselves fully to the advancement of the Kingdom of God on the earth? (2 Corinthians 10)” and, “Did we value the things that God values–hungry, thirsty, outcast people (Matthew 25)?” If we can answer these questions in the affirmative then, and only then, are we to be commended.

Are we to be commended?