But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.—2 Corinthians 4:7-9
Nowhere else in the entire New Testament is the humanity of the great apostle [Paul] seen so clearly as when he staggers under the cruel attacks of the anti-Paul bloc in the Corinthian church. His sufferings are there the most poignant and nearest to the sufferings of Christ because they are inward and of the soul. For always the soul can suffer as the body cannot….
But from Paul and his afflictions we may learn much truth, some of it depressing and some altogether elevating and wonderful. We may learn, for instance, that malice needs nothing to live on; it can feed on itself. A contentious spirit will find something to quarrel about. A faultfinder will find occasion to accuse a Christian even if his life is as chaste as an icicle and pure as snow. A man of ill will does not hesitate to attack, even if the object of his hatred be a prophet or the very Son of God Himself. If John comes fasting, he says he has a devil; if Christ comes eating and drinking, he says He is a winebibber and a glutton. Good men are made to appear evil by the simple trick of dredging up from his own heart the evil that is there and attributing it to them.