2 Corinthians 12:9–10 (ESV)
“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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. “
Paul can boast (take pride in his weaknesses) because when he is weak, then Jesus is strong in and through him.
It’s crucial to understand that when Paul says that he boasts in his weaknesses, he is not teaching or implying that he has given up on overcoming his inadequacies. For Paul to “give up” or “settle” with his shortcomings does not at all harmonize with his unrelenting and single-minded pursuit to win the prize for which God called him heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
Paul is definitely not teaching to
“settle” with weaknesses but he is teaching to remain steadfast and joyful in weakness. Jesus has mysteriously revealed to Paul that it’s in his insufficiencies and inabilities that His power is fully released. Therefore, Paul can gladly boast (Yes, you read that right – GLADLY BOAST) in his weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon him.
But what if I can’t boast in my weaknesses? What if when I am confronted with my weaknesses that I instead stop moving forward in obedience to the Lord because I can’t find the will or desire to obey or my frailties make me feel inadequate, unworthy or even condemned? For instance, what if I know in my heart and mind that Jesus commands me to forgive as God has forgiven me (Matthew 6:12-15), but I simply cannot find the will or desire in myself to forgive, then what? Or what if I again experience aberrant sensual longings in my gut and mind after months of freedom from any ungodly thoughts or desires, then what?
Do I then recoil in defeat? Do I give into the sensual desire? Or, do I remain immobile, disappointed and unchanged in my behavior because I am unable to be completely like Christ on the inside and outside? NO WAY! For if I do that then I miss out on the opportunity for the power of Christ to rest upon me.
Paul writes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, SO THAT the power of Christ may rest upon me.” In other words, if I choose to stop obeying Christ when I am weak, for whatever reason, then I miss out on seeing Jesus’ power do something in me and through me that could be beyond my wildest imagination. What I ultimately miss out on is GRACE – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
When I stop moving forward in obedience to Jesus because of my weaknesses, then I stop Him for graciously working in me and through me. I stop the opportunity to experience what it means to be saved by His grace and not by my works. I short-circuit the circuit of grace from being powered in my life by trying to rewire it into a circuit of self-sufficiency.
So then, why stop moving forward in our weaknesses if it keeps us from experiencing His wonderful and powerful grace? Well, we stop because it requires humility and trust and many of us are unwilling to humble ourselves and truly trust in the Lord. I will continue on this topic in my next article.