Jan 07 8:33 AM
Jan 07 8:33 AM
Jan 07 8:33 AM
Thursday, January 7, 2021
2 Corinthians 12:8
Hey everybody. Thanks for joining me for part 4 of our study on Strengths and Weaknesses. This week, we have looked at how God gives you strengths to cultivate your confidence, gives you weakness to develop your dependence, and gives you limitations to fortify your faith. Today, I want to talk to you about when weakness is strength. How can you be strong when you're weak? It seems like a complete oxymoron. Well, you can be strong when you're weak when you understand what the Apostle Paul faced, as he described in 2 Corinthians 12.
2 Corinthians is probably one of the most neglected books of the New Testament. It's not really taught a lot and there are not many "good" verses in it. But it's Paul's most personal and vulnerable letter. He talks about all the different challenges he faced in dealing with the Corinthians. There were many accusations leveled against him: he wasn't an apostle, he was two- faced, etc, etc. In chapter 12, he talks about how he faced a problem in his life that made him so weak that he begged God to take it away. He called it a thorn in the flesh. We don't know what the thorn in the flesh was. It could have been a literal pain or a figurative expression. We don't know what it was, but it was so bad that Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:8, "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.'" Three times Paul pleaded with the Lord to take away the weakness, whatever this thorn in the flesh was. But sometimes God is not going to take away the thorn in the flesh. Sometimes he's going to allow it to work in your life, so that in your weakness his power might show up.
How was Paul's weakness strength? Here's a hint. Paul goes on to say, "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." Can you imagine going to a meeting at work and bragging about your weaknesses? Well, Paul is not bragging about his particular weaknesses, he's bragging about the fact that weaknesses do certain things. He says, I will more gladly boast about my weaknesses, for when I am weak, then I am strong. What does that mean? It seems like a contradiction. Let me give you a couple of words to fill in that will add more clarity. When you study this passage, Paul is fundamentally saying, when I am weak in myself, then I am strong in the Lord.
What's he saying? Weakness can be strength when your weaknesses are brought to the strong attention of God Almighty. Paul had all of these challenges, especially the thorn in the flesh. He had hardships, insults, everything you can imagine, but he was strong, because in his weakness he turned to the strong God. If you didn't have any weaknesses, you wouldn't turn to the strong guy. You would just kind of muddled in the middle, getting by but not thriving. When you're weak, you turn to God and His strength, and he lifts you up higher than you would have ever been on your own. God doesn't want you to muddle in the middle. He wants you to be strong. So, when you're weak, acknowledge it. Be humble about it, speak to it. Be open about it. You have to tell everybody in the world about every weakness in your life. Just be a humble person, admit to God that you're weak, and then let God's strength replace your weakness. When I am weak in myself, then I am strong in him.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we all have weaknesses. Paul had them, and if he had them so do we. When we're weak in ourselves we can be strong, and you help us to turn to your strength. Help us to not dwell on our weakness, but dwell on your ability to get us through our weeknesses. Help us persevere through our weaknesses and to look to you always for your strength in them. Then when we're weak, we'll be strong in you. Thank you for this in Jesus' name, amen.