We’re still stuck in the slightly embarrassing section of 2 Corinthians where Paul is pressured into defending himself and the effectiveness of his ministry. I’m glad this is in the Bible, because it helps to humanize an otherwise very intimidating man.
Paul really did have plenty to boast about, but in essence he is saying, ‘Let my words and deeds speak for me. History will tell the story.’ Paul’s words and deeds did, and still do, speak for him. And history tells the story of the validity of his apostleship.
Now, if that sounds challenging, take a look at this!8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it (my thorn in the flesh) 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. 10 Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT)
Friends, we’re living in a world that teaches us we must overcome (or at least try to hide) our weaknesses and “be all we can be!” Paul says, “I am quite content with my weaknesses. For when I am weak (in myself), then I am strong (in Christ).” Welcome to the inside out, upside down realities of the Kingdom of God!
Back to the “thinking highly of me” point. It’s nice when others speak well of me. I’m often a little embarrassed by it, but it feels good, and I sincerely thank the people who say the nice things. But in my heart I am striving for the maturity in Christ that allows me to say with Paul, “I don’t want anyone to think more highly of me than what they can actually see in my life or hear in my message.”
Father, May my observable life and my hearable message be the basis for others’ opinions of me. May I receive grace to accept my weaknesses and grow strong in Christ. May I serve you effectively, labor diligently, and in all things finish well. Amen.
What They Can See
Reading: 2 Corinthians 12; Psalm 37
If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to think more highly of me than what they can actually see in my life or hear in my message. (2 Corinthians 12:6 NLT)
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