2 Corinthians 12:1-10: The Power of Christ
May 14, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
As Paul continues to defend himself, his ministry—all for the purpose of defending the gospel—he now continues to turn the tables on his opponents. He is “boasting” about his achievements and abilities, but in the final analysis, the boasting takes on a distinctly cross-shaped form. In this way, Paul shows us how Christ’s power can rest on us too.
First, Paul describes his extraordinary experience. The words that Paul uses to describe it suggest that the experience itself is beyond words. It is vain to attempt to define exactly what Paul experienced, for Paul himself did not know. And even if he had been certain, it appears it would have been impossible to have communicated it in terms that we could understand.
Second, Paul describes how God humbled him through an almost equally opaque, to our understanding, “thorn in the flesh.” Again, we do not know what Paul means by this. It is fruitless to pontificate with certitude as to what the thorn in the flesh was. Perhaps it was something physical; on the other hand, it could be something emotional. Perhaps it was Paul’s colloquialism for the annoyances and difficulties and sufferings of his ministry. Maybe on some days he thought the Corinthians were a “thorn in the flesh” to him—a bit of a pain in the neck! Again, we do not know. But what we do know is that it was serious enough for Paul to ask God to take away this difficulty. Three times. And that God said “no.” Christian: if Paul found that his prayers were not always answered as he desired (and if Jesus himself prayed “not my will but yours be done”), we are wise to submit ourselves to God’s will and not expect that he will approve of all our requests.
Third, the lesson that Paul learned:
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.
Against all our tendencies to think otherwise, the power of Christ is most revealed and most at work in our own weaknesses. The lesson therefore? To “delight in weaknesses.”
Perhaps there is some weakness that you are struggling with. An emotional weakness. A situational weakness. It is natural enough—and right enough—to pray that God would remove that weakness. But could it be that it is in that very weakness (that you so wish was removed) that the very power of Christ will be most revealed in you and through you?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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