Strength In Weakness
A daily devotion for September 26th
1I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But 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. 10That 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.
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(2 Corinthians 12:8-9a).
Paul was a mighty man of prayer, so it was natural for him to make a plea three times. The answer comes, and it is very clear. Whether it was in a vision or some inner conviction of his mind, I do not know, but the answer was clear:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. If this verse expresses a principle that is true of life, and God knows it is true that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, what do you think He is busy accomplishing with us? Making us weak, isn't He? And what makes us feel weak? It is being under attack, feeling inadequate to handle the pressures and the problems that we have. If you feel weak, then, it is not only the devil that makes you feel that way, but it is God, too. God makes us feel this weakness to keep us from adopting attitudes that could render us useless in the work of spreading His kingdom. Paul knew that the worst thing he could do was become arrogant about his revelation. It was evidently more important to keep Paul humble than it was to make him comfortable, so God allowed the
thorn to go on.
The most dangerous threat to any servant of Christ is spiritual pride. I confess to you that is the thing I fear most in my own ministry. So many nice things are said to me, so many people stroke my pride, and there are so many boosts to my ego that I fear I will begin to believe that some of these compliments represent remarkable abilities that I possess. I was at a conference in California once, and I was speaking with the director of the conference about another brother in the Lord about sending one of his organization's top speakers for a series of special meetings. This man drew himself up and said,
I am the top speaker of our group. I'm number 1. It was not surprising to me, after learning that, to see this man's ministry begin to crumble and fall apart; soon he was removed from his leadership position by his own organization. I have seen a lot of people fall because they grew arrogant and boastful about what God was doing through them.
This underscores the spiritual battle we are involved in. When is the devil being beaten? Not when we feel great and confident, when it looks like wonderful things are happening, when the ministry is going well. No, the devil is being defeated when we are feeling attacked and under the gun, when we feel weak and helpless and do not know what to do, when we are not sure how to respond, when in our perplexities and sense of weakness we come before the Lord and plead with Him for strength to go on one more day and for grace to help us stand. That is when we are winning and when the kingdom of God is being spread more abundantly than ever before.
Lord, thank You for those things in my life that keep me weak and dependent on You.
Life Application: Are we aware of the peril of spiritual pride? Can we receive our weakness and incompetence as a path to God's power at work in us?
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