Strength in Weakness


Happy Friday to all!!  As a misfit uncomfortable in my own skin, this chapter in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church is very personal to me.  We all have certain strengths, and certain weaknesses.  We all love to show off our strengths, to do the things we are best at, show people how good we are at this!  Funny thing is, it’s almost never our strengths that allow us to really have an effect on someone else’s life.  You’re good at basketball?  Or football?  Good for you!  I’m not…so you’re probably never going to connect with me through that skill.  And if I am strong in that same area, we will both be too busy trying to compete and be better than the other.  I might be good at my job (or maybe not!).  “That’s great!” Say those around me.  Meantime, they’re all probably talking behind my back and trying to tear me down or simply plotting ways to beat me at something.
 
But…if you are a good football player, or I’m good at whatever it is I do, and we are will to share with others our weaknesses, areas we have struggled in, now we have a chance to reach someone and have an effect.  People are almost always simply intimidated because we are good at something, or threatened that someone else is better than they are.  So the star athlete who can be honest about being bullied as a child, or stuttering, or being abused, can then use that weakness to really reach someone else and change their lives.  The manager you work with who can be honest about the times they’ve struggled in their jobs has a much better chance of connecting with someone working for him than the manager who has never gotten anything wrong.  
And so it is with carrying out our great commandments and commission as Christians.  If we always show off how good we are, how together we have it, we are more likely to drive people away from the love of God than draw them to it.  But if we are willing to get vulnerable and real, to allow others to see how we have failed and fallen yet still found our way thanks to the love of Jesus Christ, then we have an opportunity to reach hearts and change lives, even eternal destinies.
 
Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.   Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth.  Paul speaking for the only time about his heavenly vision which he received.    He is using it to make the point that he could write books and sermons just based on that, and would probably be very successful personally in doing so.  He could brag about being such a man who would get his own personal revelation from God.  But the end result would have been – “So what?!”  He would have been ineffective in his ministry simply talking about his strengths and all he had going for him.  He knows that in sharing his weakness, he has his true strength in achieving his purpose in life, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  We are never really told what thorn in Pauls flesh is.  Was it a physical defect, a sickness?  We don’t know.  But it was given to him by God to keep him humble, to keep Paul willing to serve the Lord.  In fact, it was given to Paul to make him better and more effective in his service.  If it wasn’t for whatever defect or weakness Paul was given, he wouldn’t have had the power to share the Gospel as he did.   The thorn in his side made him rely on God and know that My grace is sufficient for you.  Gods grace and love were all Paul needed to overcome the thorn in his side.  It’s all any of us need to overcome the thorns in our sides.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.   If we insist on boasting about our strengths and hiding our weaknesses, Christs power will never rest on us.  Pride is the source of almost all of our sins.  Pride keeps us from acknowledging our weaknesses, which are every bit as God-given as our strengths.  Pride keeps us separated from the power available to us through Christ to overcome the very weaknesses we are hiding.  Pride keeps us from fulfilling the most basic duty of all Christians – to carry His message forward until all the nations have heard His name!   I know that this is the truth – For when I am weak, then I am strong.  I just have to keep my pride from getting in the way.

“…Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:1-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
http://bible.com/111/2co.12.1-10.niv

 

John Lewis
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12 thoughts on “Strength in Weakness

  1. Christians need to be REAL. We don’t have it all together. It is Christ in us that gives us the strength, and courage to press on. Our testimonies of what Christ has done in the midst of our weaknesses are so powerful and must be shared. Thanks for reminding us.
    Blessings,
    Beckie from Spotlight, beckielindsey16.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so much in agreement with your statement “But if we are willing to get vulnerable and real, to allow others to see how we have failed and fallen yet still found our way thanks to the love of Jesus Christ, then we have an opportunity to reach hearts and change lives, even eternal destinies.” My blog crossingpaths.net uses the subline “Intersections can reroute our destinies forever.” This premise about realness exposed and loved is also a foundational pillar in my church’s men’s group. When you fall, get up, brush off the dust and get going, brother. Eccles. 4:8-9 says “Two are better than one because. . . if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. It works.

    Liked by 1 person

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