EP54 2 Corinthians 12:9

I haven’t said it in a while, but I hope you’ve gotten yourself a concordance so you can double check the scriptures that we talk about on the podcast. Either a hard copy, or download a program; something that will allow you to look up the scriptures and look up the words in the original. Make sure that I’m telling you the truth. The heart of the Berean Manifesto is that you wouldn’t take my word on anything that I say here. That you would look it all up for yourself, take a hands on approach, and own the things that I’m teaching, the things that you’re learning.
2 Corinthians was written by Paul, and this is actually a pretty well-known and debated writing by Paul. This is the part of the writing where Paul says, “For if I want to boast, I wouldn’t be a fool, because I would be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me.” But, the Lord replied to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul goes on to say, “Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak then I am strong.”
It’s good news for all of us who are human; we all have thorns in the flesh. We all have areas where we’re weak and we’re struggling. I myself have, on more than one occasion, been accused of being a jerk, being too harsh, being rude, being short with people. That’s just one of the most obvious weaknesses that I have. There are lots of weaknesses that are private that most people don’t see, as we all have. There are things that are private about our lives that we don’t share or advertise.
And when it comes to those things, you are the only one fully qualified to know what those weaknesses are and to know what areas you need improvement. I can’t really look at your life and say you need to improve in this area or that area, and you can’t look at my life and tell me where I need to improve. We can only look within ourselves and try to be the best us that we can be. One of the main keys to that, one of the main ingredients to becoming that best us that we can be, can be found in 2 Corinthians 12:9. It’s really in this scripture where we see a tenant of the Christian faith that it’s not through our own works, and our own power that we become the best that we can be.
If we look back at the scripture again, it’s the Lord saying that His grace, His graciousness, His acceptable attitude and the way that joy can fill your life through Him. It’s this that can drive us into a place of contentment; Contentment in the drought, contentment in the storm, contentment in the areas where we’re struggling. It goes on to say that His power is made perfect in weakness.
I think it’s important to point out that the King James translates the word power as “strength” in this scripture. We’ve talked a lot about his word in the podcast. In the original language it’s the word dunemas. We’ve talked about having a stick of TNT and lighting that fuse and letting that power be released. That dunemas, that miraculous power; that’s the word used here in this scripture, His miraculous power is made perfect through our weakness. The reason that is, is not because God wants us to be frail and feeble and sick and weak. That’s the furthest thing from the truth. The reason that is, is because when we identify where we are weak, when we identify that we can’t do it on our own. That’s when we really turn to the Lord and allow Him to work in us, to work through us, to be the thing that reaches out to the world around us. When we really are in that place where it’s His grace, and His power moving through us.
We see a great example of this in the life of Smith Wigglesworth. Smith was born in the mid 1800’s to a poor family and worked as a small child in the fields pulling turnips with his mother. As a teen he apprenticed as a plumber and married his wife Polly at the age of 23. She taught Smith to read using the bible and he began preaching after receiving the Holy Spirit at a revival meeting in 1907. One of my favorite stories that is recorded that Smith would tell is, “I was travelling to Cardiff in South Wales. I had been much in prayer on the journey. The carriage was full of people whom I knew to be unsaved, but as there was so much talking and joking I could not get in a word for my Master. As the train was nearing the station, I thought I would wash my hands… and as I returned to the carriage, a man jumped up and said, ‘Sir, you convince me of sin,’ and fell on his knees there and then. Soon the whole carriage of people were crying out the same way. They said, ‘Who are you? What are you? You convince us all of sin’…” That man, those people, felt convicted, not condemned, there is a difference. They had always felt condemned. The condemnation was always there, that’s why Jesus came; to bring conviction. You see condemnation causes you to feel the weight of what is going on as if you cannot get out from underneath it. But conviction, conviction causes you recognize that you need to get out from underneath it and gives you the drive to move forward.
Whatever you’re facing right now, whatever your thorn in the flesh is. Is it alcoholism? Pornography? Is it just being rude? Whatever that is, just know that you can give that over to the Lord and despite your shortcomings. Despite your flaws and your weaknesses when you give those over to the Lord, His grace will carry you. His power will be made perfect to be able to minister through you.
Like we said when we talked about 2 Timothy 1:7, we don’t have to have fear when we tell the testimony of what the Lord did; to share the Gospel. This goes hand in hand with that, that power will flow through you. You may not even have a chance to share the Gospel. The seeds that others have planted, in the people around you may just bloom in your presence like they did for Mr. Wigglesworth on that train carriage. People may be coming to you and asking you to share with them instead of you asking them if you can share.
Here at the end I really want to encourage you to embrace this Berean format. Make sure that you’re not just taking my word for what the bible says, or for what these words mean. Take a few minutes to look up the scriptures and the meanings of the words, and scrutinize every word that I say. That keeps me honest, makes sure that you’re learning, and ensures that as a culture of Christians we’re carrying the truth forward.
Until next time…
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