Before his Road to Damascus experience, the Apostle Paul had what the world would probably refer to today as an impressive resume. He had received the best education, was very zealous for knowledge and the law, and he traveled in the circles of those in the upper echelon of Jewish society. One day, when he was on his way to Damascus on an assignment to persecute Christians, he was completely transformed through an experience with Jesus Christ. Up until that point, Paul despised those who followed Christ, and wanted to place them in prison, but after he was converted, he did a complete turnaround and wanted desperately to win souls for Christ. Even though he changed dramatically, there were still some weaknesses lurking about. This is true for all of us, and we can learn from the Apostle Paul about how to turn these weaknesses into strengths that give God glory.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT), the Apostle Paul said, “So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” We know from this verse right off the bat that Paul could have been tempted by something that would have caused great damage to his effectiveness in Christ. It was pride. Many people look at pride as a strength, but we know from God’s Word that He hates a prideful spirit. This isn’t the kind of pride that we feel when our children succeed. The pride that God hates and that can get us into deep spiritual trouble is arrogance. It is an exaggerated sense of self-importance, or thinking more of ourselves than we should.
Paul’s life before his conversion was saturated with arrogance, and after he was saved, the spirit of arrogance was always lurking about trying to find a way back in. Many people believe that it was the Lord God Almighty who sent Paul’s thorn in the flesh, but the truth is that Paul’s propensity towards arrogance was the welcome mat that the devil used to walk in and buffet Paul with this thorn. This gives us some inkling about how harmful pride and arrogance can be to our Christian walks. Pride is a blocker. It blocks our blessings, because it keeps us from walking with humility; and humility is the thing that makes us flexible to the Will of God.
In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NLT), Paul said, “8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” Many of us struggle with seeing God as an awesomely loving and patient Heavenly Father. We can’t get rid of this image in the back of our minds of a God that punishes and causes suffering. So, when we see that Paul begged God to take away this thorn in the flesh, we look at God’s response and think He’s telling Paul that he has to keep dealing with this thorn without relief. That’s not it at all. God gave Paul a strategy in verse 9 for dealing with the problem. He wasn’t saying that He wouldn’t come to Paul’s aid; He was telling Paul how to put the devil under his feet. God told Paul, “Use my grace, son. That’s what’s going to give you the victory in this situation. That’s the power that is going to turn your weakness into your strength. My grace is all you need!”
The word weak is defined as the lack of power or physical strength. It is being close to a breaking point or giving way under pressure. This is the condition many Christians find themselves in when they succumb to the pressures of life, especially when their lack of faith in God gives way to sinful behavior. I’ve heard many of my single Christian friends speak of how much they regret actions they’ve taken because they lacked patience as it relates to dating.
They start out with a healthy appetite for doing everything God’s way in the beginning of their relationship with someone new, but by the third or fourth month of dating, their self-control goes straight out of the window.
The Apostle Paul was able to boast in his weakness because those were the times when he stopped leaning on his flesh and began to lean on God’s grace. Where Paul’s strength failed, the power of the Holy Spirit surpassed and succeeded; and God was glorified. Paul was going through some horrible times and he had many enemies, so much so, that he prayed often for God to remove the “thorns in his flesh”, but God knew that Paul needed to lean on Him, and not be so concerned about the people that wanted to see him suffer.
When we don’t trust God through our tough times, our lack of faith provides the opening the enemy is looking for. We need to know that through Christ we can flip our weaknesses into an incredible opportunity to see God working through us. Paul understood this, and this is why he said, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” Always remember that God knows full well what we’re made of. He knows our weak points, but He also knows that in the face of weakness, we can go within to the Spirit that indwells us, and he will do the miraculous through God’s grace. ■
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
“With God’s Blessing, Go Ahead and Marry”, written by FACM, Finding A Christian Man.Com ©2017. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!