“Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, in order that it would torment me so that I would not exalt myself.8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would depart from me. 9 And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, because the power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore rather I will boast most gladly in my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may reside in me.” (2Cor:12)
It’s usually my policy to not speak of myself too much here. This is for two reasons, one is that I’m really not that interesting. Two is because I’d like to be.
I am a small man. I don’t mean short, though in God’s humor, He chose to make me that too. I am small in dignity. I am not confident. I have no claim to greatness. I have no claim to honor. I need constant reassurance, an emotional parasite from a line of emotional parasites. I am self-absorbed. I have little to be proud of and often combat this by taking far too much pride in the few gifts I have been given.
Why am I telling you this? Again, two reasons: “16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” (James 5) and because, like Paul, I am learning to boast in my weaknesses.
Only Christians can do this rationally. I am easily overwhelmed. A harsh word, a small opposition to my plans, a little thing that goes wrong and I come apart. Why would I boast of this? Because sometimes I overcome! How? Did I cease to become a small-minded, self-seeking, easily overwhelmed weakling? Heck no! Gimme a few minutes and i'll prove it. Christ overcame me! He not only overcame the resistance, He overcame me! And He does this all the time! So to boast of my weakness is to simultaneously boast of His greatness!
It has been my pattern, being a self-seeking, small-minded man, to see this as growth. I’m getting better. Bah! Thank the Lord that He keeps knocking me back down! Otherwise I would be insufferable! My heart wants to take the victories of Christ in me, the times He overcomes me and my weaknesses, the Power of God in me, for myself! I am so pathetic I would take credit for what God has done for me and through me! I am so wretched I would accept the glory for things I had nothing to do with! Any time I overcome myself, it is not me but Christ in me! So I will boast in my weaknesses, my lack of education, my lack of resources, my lack of strength and stature, because the Power of God, the Victory of Christ and the Spirit of Love shine through these things! God is making much of Himself not through our supposed aptitudes but through the very things we most hate about ourselves!
This is a lot of exclamation points. But this stuff excites me.
Now, I will not boast in my sin. And these weaknesses have been used as engines of sin in me. When I try to make people like me. When I try to take credit for God’s gifts. When I seek the approval of men and God. When I become self-righteous. “34 With those who scorn, he is scornful,
but to those who are humble, he gives favor.” (Prov 3)
In my weakness, I have allowed sin to power and corrupt even the good in my life. I have loved only to seek love. This is not love. God, who is love, loves those who cannot love Him. Who cannot benefit Him. God does not seek us to fill some hole in Himself. He seeks us to fill a hole in US! This is love! Not to be worshiped for how great I am but to give up my greatness, to use my greatness (I’ll get to that) for the good of the other! That my friends, my brothers and sisters, is Love! That’s why love isn’t proud, why it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs! It’s not seeking anything but the good of the other, it’s not considering itself at all.
I would tell you to love like that but that would be stupid! You can’t! You are too weak, I am too weak. And that’s exactly where we need to be! Now we’re ready. Only a Christian is greatest when they come to the end of themselves.
“And this is the victory which has conquered the world: our faith. 5 Now who is the one who conquers the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1John:5)
When we confess our weakness to God and each other, God is free to move! Why would He bless us if we take credit for His work? No one's is going to be saved by thinking we're awesome. You are no one's savior! We must confess our weaknesses, foremost and first among them being, We cannot save ourselves! Only by Christ are we saved and redeemed! We must boast of our failings and flaws before men (we might as well, they see them eventually anyway) so that men will see our good deeds and say, “That’s awesome! He’s a total jerk so that must be the finger of God!” The Father and Son are in us. They have given us the Holy Spirit, the mighty right hand of God! The greatest power in the universe is in us! God says to us, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3) “‘Child, you are always with me, and everything I have belongs to you.” (Luke 15) Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. We are simultaneously worse than we think we are and greater than we can possibly imagine! God has given you your weakness as well as your gifts! Stop using them to build tin tiaras, reverse the polarity on the engines of sin and focus on Christ! Learn from Peter, don’t take your eyes off Him. The crowns we wear are His gifts! They are the works God’s Spirit does in us! Throw them at the Lamb’s feet, rejoice that He has chosen you, do good as He makes you able and worship! How could you not??