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2Corinthians  ◦   Chapter 12

1I have started bragging like a child, so I must continue, although I doubt it will accomplish much. I will now tell you about visions from the Lord:2I know a Christian, who — fourteen years ago — was taken to the third heaven where God is. I am not certain whether it was an actual physical transportation to heaven or only a vision of heaven occurring in the mind–only God knows that–3but even though only God knows whether this man was physically transported to heaven or experienced heaven as a vision in his mind,4I know he was taken to paradise where God is. While there, he heard wonderful truths–truths beyond earthly comprehension; truths human beings are currently unable to explain.5As a man, to talk about such a thing makes me proud, but I will not focus attention on myself, except for my deficiencies.6But if I did choose to talk about what I have done, I wouldn't look ridiculous, because I would only be recounting facts of what has transpired. But I will not speak about myself, because I want people to form their conclusions about me from the way I live, not by what I say about myself.

7To keep me humble and to protect me from arrogance in the aftermath of seeing the incredible beauties of heaven and hearing heavenly truth, I was afflicted with a physical ailment. It was really an attack from Satan, designed to discourage me and divert me from fulfilling God's purpose for my life.8Three times I talked with Jesus and asked him to heal me,9but he said to me, "My Remedy is more than enough for you, for my power is most clearly seen by transforming the weak." Therefore I will make my infirmities even more plain so that Christ's power may be more fully revealed in me.10Do you understand? It is so that Christ's Remedy–his power to transform lives and deliver hearts and minds from fear and selfishness–can be more easily seen that I delight in weakness, insults, mistreatment, difficulties, persecution, and hardships. The weaker I get, the more of Christ's power is manifest in me, and the stronger I become.

11I have spoken like a child, but it was because you needed me to talk to you this way. I should already have your endorsement, trust and support, for my qualifications are certainly not less than those professional speakers — those so-called "experts" you listen to — even though of myself I am nothing.12Signs and wonders accompanied my ministry and were done with humility, gentleness and patience, which marks me as one of Christ's ambassadors.13In what way did I treat you worse than the other churches, other than that I never burdened you with my expenses, so I took less money from you than from them? If this troubles you, please forgive me.

14I am coming to you for my third visit, and I will not burden you with my expenses, because I want it clearly understood: I do not want your property–I want your love! Little children should not have to earn money to support their parents, but parents should provide for their children,15so I am eager to spend everything I have for your good. I will even give my life if necessary. Will you really love me less if I love you more?16So the facts are clear: I have not burdened you in any way, yet some still whisper that I am a conman and somehow try to scam you by not asking for your money.17Well, think for yourselves! Did anyone whom I sent try to cheat you?18I encouraged Titus to visit you, and I sent a close friend with him. Did Titus try to cheat you? Or did he act in the same patient, humble, loving attitude, and practice the same honest methods as I did?

19Don't think we are writing in order to defend ourselves to you. Our lives are open before God as the lives of people united with Christ. My dear friends, everything we do is for your eternal healing, development, and growth.20I am quite concerned that when I arrive I will not find you in the healthy condition I would like to, and you may not find me as pleased with your condition as you hope. I am afraid you have been reinfected with selfishness, which is causing arguments, envy, temper tantrums, internal sects, slander, gossip, arrogance, and a general breakdown in decency and good order.21I am afraid that when I visit again, God will permit me to be embarrassed and have my heart broken over those who have previously engaged in destructive sexual behavior and still have not experienced Christ's Remedy or had their hearts transformed.