God's all sufficient grace.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. 5 On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. 6 For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.
A Thorn in the Flesh
7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
In today’s text, after speaking of his experience of being in the presence of God, Paul says: Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Paul knew himself. He knew that in his human nature he was self confident. He was a type A personality, bold, self confident and perhaps prideful. He said the reason for the “thorn in his flesh” was that he would be kept from exalting himself. We are not certain what it was that Paul dealt with. But I would say that it is an example of what he wrote in Romans 8:28-29: We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. Whatever it was that Paul had to deal with, God did not cause it. In Jeremiah 29:11-13, God says: I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. God’s plans are for our good. He wants us to seek and find Him that we might know and walk in the plans that He has for us. In Genesis 1:26, God said: Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. We are created in the image and likeness of the perfect God. Any handicap or malformation, any sickness or disease, any thorn in the flesh is not His plan or His design. If it exists, if it is in our lives, it is the consequence of sin, not that it is to punish us for our sin, our sins are forgiven, but rather it is the consequence of sin in the world. It is a result of the fall. God didn’t and doesn’t cause it, but He will cause it to work for our good. He will cause it to work toward conforming us to the image of Christ, His Son. We were created in His image and likeness. But having lived in the world, we need to be recreated. We need to be conformed back to what God intended from the beginning.
In John 16:33 Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Jesus has overcome the world and through Him we overcome any and all the things that are consequences of living in the world. In today’s text Paul writes: Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. It’s not that we are thankful for our difficulties, our trials and tribulations. It is not that we are thankful for the thorns in our flesh. It is that by God’s grace, through Christ we overcome. We have the peace of Christ even in our difficulties. We know that even our difficulties will be used to work for our good, recreating and conforming us to the image of Christ. We have peace through the sufficient grace of God that through Christ we will overcome.
We can perhaps do many good things in our own strength. We can serve others and serve God. If we want to do God things though, the things He has prepared for us, we must do it in the strength that we have in Christ. Ephesians 2:8-10 says: By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. God’s grace is sufficient. It is sufficient, all that we need for salvation, so that we would not exalt ourselves and boast of our own works. God’s grace is also sufficient, it is all that we need to overcome the world and to do the good works that God prepared for us and prepared us for in Christ.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; thank You for Your all sufficient grace; the grace that saves me through faith in Christ and the grace that gives me peace and strength to do all that You would have me do. My boast is in You. Amen.