POWER MADE PERFECT THROUGH WEAKNESS: ACCEPTING WEAKNESS AND GROWING BY GRACE
TEXT: 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness, Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
“And there shall no longer be a pricking brier or a painful thorn for the house of Israel from among all who are around them, who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the Lord God.”
(We can also read Number 33:55)
The issues to be considered according to the note
What is to be considered in this class are contained in the note below:
The inability of society to deal with human weaknesses with understanding and empathy make many people to hide their weaknesses and not to know how to deal with personal weaknesses. Many cannot offer simple apology for their wrongs! We in this class will examine some questions such as:
- “What is “sorry”? Why is it always difficult to say sorry to one another when situation demands it?
- When we say sorry, what is the benefit or outcome? Why do I need to say sorry?
- What power exists in accepting our weaknesses drawing lesson from Paul’s experience in the text?
- How can we turn our weakness to strength?
- What is the role of the Holy Spirit in making us strong during the times of our weaknesses?
Paul was speaking about his infirmities as seen in the preceding verses particularly in verse 7 when he said he did not want to be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, and that he was given a thorn in the flesh, which he referred to as a messenger of Satan, who was responsible for his torment.
Notwithstanding, he had prayed on three different occasions so that this pain can be taken away from him. But the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then said, he will rather boast in his infirmities, so that the power of Jesus Christ may rest upon him. Instead, he took pleasure in his many challenges which include:
All these obstacles were identified, tolerated and endured by Paul for the sake of Jesus Christ. How about you? What are you tolerating for the sake of Christ?
Actually the thorn in the body of Paul was not expressly identified, but we can see that it was something that bothered him so much that he prayed three times to the Lord about it.
The type of thorn was not stated in the scripture, but he chose to call it a ‘thorn in the flesh,’ a phrase that shows the degree of the pain that he suffered. Can it be a wound, disease or any other body defect? The Bible did not reveal it.
There is no way as Christians that we can escape such a situation in which Paul has found himself, and engaged in devotional prayers thrice to overcome it, but all to no avail. The answer he got from the LORD was: “My grace is sufficient for you”. Notwithstanding, Paul continued to match on. Some today will do otherwise, the details of which I do not want to write here. We all know some of our actions and reactions to our prayers, particularly if we have waited and waited and no answer received as we expected.
In all this thing, Paul was able to humble himself, so that when he has preached to others, he will not become disqualified (1Cor 9:24-27). What about us?
DEALING WITH HUMAN WEAKNESSES
What is weakness?
a. Weakness is defined by Chambers 21st Century dictionary as any of the conditions listed below:
i) The condition of being weak.
ii) A shortcoming in life, a fault, for instance, failing health.
iii) A particular usually indulgent or liking for something.
So, Paul’s weakness may be either of (ii) or (iii) above, but the Bible was explicit about it in a clear term. Instead, what Paul did was to mention some circumstances under which he went through:
- He suffered infirmities,
- He was reproached,
- He was persecuted, and
- He was distressed.
b. Weak: Chambers also define being weak as:
- lacking physical strength
- Lacking in moral or mental integrity
- Yielding too easily to temptation
None of the above can be said to have happened to Paul, because he was a true apostle and disciple of Christ, who suffered many afflictions for the sake of Christ (2Cor 2:4; 2Cor 11:3-33).
All these conditions are common to all of us as Christian in one way or the other. Our abilities to manage and overcome them is a mirror of our strength.
STRENGTH – Spiritual and Physical Strength
What is strength?
- Chambers define strength as the quality or degree of being physically or mentally strong or alert
- The ability to withstand pressure or force
- A highly valued quality of behavior
- To achieve a series of successes, each surpassing the last: go from strength to strength.
What is your strength?
“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Rev 3:8). This message was sent to the church in Philadelphia. ‘Your strength’ or ‘my strength’ in this context will be determined by the quality of our values and Christian life that we live in our homes, with neighbours, in the office or workplace, and in the church.
Our strength will be revealed in our abilities to identify when we are wrong and make conscious effort to say “sorry” and make amend.
How do we demonstrate our strength?
We have seen that to possess a valued high quality behavior is a remedy for our weaknesses as Christians. When we imbibe the fear of God as a pivot for our character we will conquer our weaknesses.
“For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God” (Ecc 5:7).
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Pro 3:7)
“My Son, fear the Lord and the King” (Pro 24:21).
“Honour all people, Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the King” (1Pet 2:17)
THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN MAKING US STRONG DURING THE TIMES OF WEAKNESS:
- Colossians 3:16, says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom”. When the word which is Spirit abides in us we shall always be guided in our thoughts and deeds. Verse 17 says, whatever we do in word or deed, we should do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Jesus said “the words that I speak to you are Spirit and are life’’ (Joh 6:63).
- We need to feed our minds with the word of God regularly. (1Tim 2:15; 1The 4:11). So that we shall always be in tune with God, who is Spirit (Joh 4:24), and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth. We must not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom 8:1). We must allow the Spirit to continue to intercede with the Father for us (Rom 8:26).
“The Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God. We must compare spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor 2:10, 13-16).
Therefore quench not the Spirit (1The 5:19). When our weaknesses escalate, with prayers and supplications let us make our infirmities known to God (Eph 6:18; Php 4:6; 1The 5:17).
As children of God, the word of Christ must dwell richly in us in all wisdom (Col 3:16). The word is Spirit and Life (Joh 6:63). We must regularly feed on the Word in order to boost our spiritual knowledge and overcome our weaknesses (1Tim 2:15; 1The 4:11).
Let us not be wise in our own eyes, but let us fear God in all that we do and depart from evil (Pro 3:7).
Let us honour all people, Love the brotherhood and give our apologies by saying, “Sorry” whenever there is opportunity to say it (1Pet 2:17).
Thank you for your kind attention!