It can often be easy to get caught up and boast about the wrong different things
what people do: career, sports, responsibility
what they accomplished
what they have: money, possessions
The apostle Paul takes a different approach with the church in Corinth and the religious
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
6 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, 7 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. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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.10 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.
Paul had a lot to boast about: Numerous churches he started, people he raised up/mentored, the people he converted, even the great revelations and visions that God had given him. He had great success and it was only natural for Paul to talk about his accomplishments rather than his personal imperfections. However, Paul chose not to boast about his accomplishments and strengths, but instead his shortcomings and weaknesses.
One of the themes throughout Scripture is that anybody who has made a radical impact for God did so because God used their weaknesses and personal imperfections for His greater purposes. To name some:
Jacob, a cheater and deceiver
Jonah’s fear and disobedience to God’s call.
Moses had anger problems.
A. Every Thorn Serves a Purpose
Paul was given a thorn in his flesh
What was this thorn? Don’t know
Whatever this thorn, Paul considered it sent from Satan
Though Satan attacks us for our destruction, God is able to use it for our good
Whatever this thorn God used it for Paul’s good. It kept him reliant on God
We face physical issues, hurts, hardships or hang-ups that God uses to remind us of our inadequacies and our weaknesses, lack of control.
There are things that can be a thorn to us that come in various forms: tragedy (sickness), a difficult relationship, friend, parent, child
All of us have thorns or will have thorns; God wants us to deal with them
What did these thorns do for Paul?
A. Thorns change our perspective. Paul realized that the thorn that God had given him was to remove any form of pride.It kept Paul humble.
B. Second, thorns challenge us to be God dependent.
Paul says he prayed three times, “Lord, take the thorn/pain away from me
The very thing that he wanted God to take away was the very thing he needed to stay connected to God.
Have you ever prayed repeatedly for God to remove something painful in your life and the answer was no?
Instead of taking away the thorn, God reminds us that his grace is more than enough. God’s grace is all sufficient
C. Paul had to learned the value of suffering for spiritual good. God was not withholding his blessing at this point, but was pointing to the direction where the blessing could be found
What Paul learns is that God allows thorns to enter our lives for a purpose.
Thorns are ultimately used to transform us into the character of Christ.
God’s Power Works in our Weakness
Paul Boast in His Weaknesses
Culture; We live in a culture where exposing our weaknesses is a form of failure
Pride – We care what people think of us
We want to be accepted rather than rejected (judged)
When we boast about weaknesses, humility is at work
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Often we hear of turning weaknesses into strengths
If all the weakness in our lives is turned into strengths, where is the opportunity for Gods power to be seen?
I believe Paul had in mind another transformation, and it does not involve the removal of our weakness, but the transformation of our perspective on our weakness
We can believe; all my weaknesses will be gone, and we will be strong disciples. God can accomplish his purposes despite our human limitations
The power comes when we are able to love, when we are unloving
To deny self when we are selfish
To be humble when we are prideful
To be patient when we are impatient
To be bold when we are cowardly
To be forgiving, when we are unforgiving
Paul does not say: “I will boast all the more that my weaknesses are gone”
Paul would boast all the more about his weakness
Paul was able to look at his weakness and see God working
It was Paul’s hope that when people looked and saw his weakness they would see the power of God