Read This Week: 2 Corinthians 12

Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 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.” 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.
– 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV

Human beings, across the board, face many common realities. Things that we all deal with regardless of our family, socio-economic status, or culture. One of these is pride, an emotion that selfishly evaluates and increases our stature. Pride fuels and seeks to satisfy our egos with an overblown and unrealistic view of ourselves. This sin plagues all people.

Pride of a spiritual nature can be even more hazardous to our lives. It can facilitate disproportionate emotions, ambitious thoughts, and impure motives. Spiritual pride can lead to a loss of awareness of who we are and what our calling from God truly means. It can also twist and misinterpret things spoken over us and turn them into arrogant expectations.

2 Corinthians 12 concludes Paul’s defense of his ministry and genuine love for the people of Corinth against the superstar apostles. He understood the pitfalls of sinful arrogance and spiritual pride and is hesitant to write about his experiences. But he doesn’t see another way to defend himself and show the people that God had indeed called him to be an apostle. Paul decides to share a vision that the Lord gave him, however, he does it with humility, and in the third person so the attention will be on God, not on him.

In the telling of his vision, Paul only speaks of himself regarding his weaknesses. His weakness highlights God’s strength and he brags on the power of God at work in his life instead of his own spiritual experiences. In doing so, he provides a great example of spiritual humility and the importance of making much of Jesus through our spiritual resume. The Lord calls us to preach Christ, not ourselves, or our visions.

The beneficial thing is that God knows how to bring balance to our lives. And because of His great love, humbles us amid our blessings and accomplishments. Paul writes in verse 7, “Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh.” Paul’s experience in heaven could have corrupted his ministry on earth; so God, in His goodness, allowed him to be uncomfortable to keep him from being destroyed by sinful pride.

God is such a good Father like that. He uses our weaknesses and suffering to build character, deliver us from harmful pride, and make us more effective in our ministries. By depending on God and His grace alone, we avoid dependence on self, ego, and human accomplishment. As Paul says, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” May we depend on and brag about God alone so we can feel His strength and channel His power in our lives to change the world.

10 Comments

  1. Heidi on May 13, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    What God put on my heart today, we will go through hardships, troubles, pain, there will be issues in life, but, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, God said to Paul, “But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!”

    God covers us. He is with us no matter what we’re going through. His loving-kindness and favor is what you want to focus on. When you’re feeling weak, seek God for what you need, then respond to Him. Humble yourself and ask Him to help you. Pray because you can talk to Him 24-7 and ask Him for strength in your weakness to do what you need to do. Look for the good, see what God is doing and be apart of that. Don’t complain or make up excuses why you can’t, ask God how you can.

    He can give you the strength to do what He desires for you to do. No matter what people did, or said about Paul, no matter what he was going through, He put God first. He looked out for people. He was a good spiritual Father in the Lord. Even though some people went back to living a life that wasn’t pleasing to God, he still had hope that they would have a change of heart. Let’s be filled with God’s hope today, that we can be filled with God’s strength get what we need through our weaknesses! Knowing that God is working out everything for good because He loves us. I thank God for His loving kindness and all He does because He loves us so much.

    Paul also shared out of Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    • Jason on May 17, 2020 at 5:41 pm

      There is a lot of good commentary on 2 Corinthians 12 in this post, Heidi but this line kept jumping out at me as I read it twice: Don’t complain or make up excuses why you can’t, ask God how you can. This is the height of spiritual humility, admitting that we can’t do something apart from God but submitting to His will and power to accomplish it. That is certainly what Paul modeled in his life and absolutely what Jesus demonstrated as well.

      It’s not about us anyway and when we relent to God’s power and control, He gives us the strength to do what He desires for us to do. Then the glory and praise are given to the person it belongs to in the first place.

  2. almaschmidt on May 13, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    This week in 2 Corinthians 12, God gave me a song while I listening to the message. It’s called, “Presence of God”:

    We are blessed, blessed, blessed to have the Holy Spirit
    Flowing through us, guiding to be humble and peaceful

    Having a powerful Lord giving us strength and wisdom
    Knowledge to know the truth and his wonderful ways

    We are blessed, blessed, blessed to have the presence of God
    We are living in the spirit, in the spirit of God. Amen.

    When we go to the Lord through our trials, weakness, and sadness, He will lift us up through his power and give us strength. Together anything is possible. Thank you, God!

    • Jason on May 17, 2020 at 3:42 pm

      We truly are blessed to be able to be in the presence of the Lord where He lifts us up in His power. Your song reminded me of one I heard years ago called, “In His Presence”:

      In Your presence
      There is comfort
      In Your presence
      There is peace
      When we seek to know Your heart
      We will find such blessed assurance
      In Your holy presence Lord

  3. Sam Centers on May 14, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    As we go through chapter 12 in Corinthians this week, God has drawn my attention to many verses. But yesterday during our Bible study, He drew me to verse 14 where Paul was talking to the people about not being a burden on them. He was saying that he didn’t want to gain from them but just to bring them to the Lord. God was saying to me was, as He was with Paul, you are not to go to someone for monetary gain. You go to bring them closer to Me. It is not their possessions you are there for but to bring them to me through the gospel.

    What that means to me is that we are to follow God in the ways that He leads us. We accept His word and follow His instructions to go, not to go, or stay still. But we always know it is his Word that we follow and to not want anything in return but His love and blessings.

    • Jason on May 17, 2020 at 4:21 pm

      I really appreciate your insight here, Sam. I think this is a worthy discussion for the follower of Jesus anytime but especially in our day and age of performance and incentive-based Christian service. As you pointed out, we are simply to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and His guidance in where we should serve and whom we should serve. Our motivation and incentive is the glory of God and obedience to His word and not man’s approval or monetary gain.

      Thank you for the reminder!

  4. Jeri Centers on May 14, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    God gave me a word this week from the Wednesday Ladies’ Bible study. When facing Hardships, some ask, why is this happening to me? Others think they are being really spiritual when they suffer in silence or say things like, God knows what He is doing. He doesn’t have to explain anything. It’s all about God’s will and what he wants for us.

    What that means to me is that it is true that God knows what He is doing and does not owe us any explanations. But that doesn’t mean we should dismiss our hardships or avoid thinking about what He might want to accomplish through them. Whatever we’re going through it will give us strength and makes us stronger in God.

    • Jason on May 17, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      Jeri, this is such a tremendous view of achieving a balanced perspective when it comes to suffering and hard times. We struggle so much with polar viewpoints on this issue just like you said but the great equalizer is faith and trust in God’s Word. It keeps us from swinging all the way to the view of being really spiritual and suffering in silence or say things like, God knows what He is doing or to the other side of failing to see the positive significance of life’s challenges.

      I love this line: It is true that God knows what He is doing and does not owe us any explanations. But that doesn’t mean we should dismiss our hardships or avoid thinking about what He might want to accomplish through them. There is so much biblical truth here and is actually the Christ-centered perspective that is rooted in faith. Praise God for speaking this through you!

  5. Kathy on May 16, 2020 at 11:25 am

    God spoke to me during the women’s Bible study on Wednesday. This is what He was saying to me. When you talk to Me, don’t close your ears to Me if I don’t respond in a way you did not hope for. I will keep giving you My grace and it will be sufficient to meet your every need. You need to trust Me and have faith. You don’t really believe My grace until you believe you are insufficient. Do not rely on yourself. You can’t receive My strength until you know your weakness. Great tribulation brings out My great strength.

    My grace can meet your need because it expresses My acceptance and pleasure in you. My grace is available all the time. This grace can’t be taken away because you stumble and fall. The blood of Jesus covers you. I love you and am pleased by you. My love is enough for you.

    What this said to me is His love needs to be enough for me. When I stumble and fall He is always with me and He gives me grace. It’s not based on my performance.

    • Jason on May 17, 2020 at 5:17 pm

      This was my favorite line, Kathy and one that I feel is very necessary to preach to ourselves: When you talk to Me, don’t close your ears to Me if I don’t respond in a way you did not hope for. I will keep giving you My grace and it will be sufficient to meet your every need.

      It is so easy to say that we should listen to God’s voice, but it is another thing altogether to keep on listening to God’s voice especially after He gives us an answer we don’t like or wasn’t looking for. Yet, that is the trust and faithfulness He desires and is looking for out of us.

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