March 10th, 2007
In today’s reading, Paul said, “I am happy with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles, for Christ’s sake. I am strongest when I am weak.” He meant that you only become truly effective as a follower of Jesus when you stop trying to do everything yourself and start letting God work through you. When you know that you are weak God can do amazing things through you, because God’s power is made perfect in your weakness. This is not an argument in favour of deliberately trying to be weak or doing less than your best; it’s an argument for recognising when God is working through you to do far more than you can do in your own power.
Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians — Chapter 12
12:1 I will keep making claims, although it is not really appropriate. Let me come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up into the third heaven. Whether this happened in the body or out of the body, I do not know. God knows. 12:3 I know that this man — whether in the body, or outside of the body, I do not know; God knows — 12:4 was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which a man is not permitted to say. 12:5 I will make claims on behalf such a person, but I will not make claims on my own behalf, except in my weaknesses. 12:6 If I want to make claims about this, I will not be stupid, because I will be telling the truth. But I do not do it, so that no one will think more highly of me than what he sees in me, or hears from me, 12:7 in spite of the amazing nature of the revelations. To stop me becoming arrogant, I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. 12:8 I pleaded with the Lord three times for him to take it away from me. 12:9 He has told me, “My grace is enough for you, because my power is made perfect in weakness.” So I am happy to talk about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can fill me.
12:10 I am happy with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles, for Christ’s sake. I am strongest when I am weak. 12:11 I have said some stupid things, but you forced me to, because I should have been thought of highly by you, as I was in no way inferior to super-apostles, though I am nothing. 12:12 The signs of a true apostle were patiently performed amongst you, signs and wonders and mighty works. 12:13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except in that I was not a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong.
12:14 This is the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you, because I am not after your possessions, but you. The children should not save up to support their parents. Parents should support their children. 12:15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, will you love me less? 12:16 Assuming I did not become a burden to you, you might claim that I was crafty, and caught you with deception. 12:17 Did I take advantage of you by means of anyone that I have sent to you? 12:18 I encouraged Titus, and I sent him to you with our brother. Did Titus take any advantage of you? Did we not live by the same spirit? Did we not follow the same steps? 12:19 Do you think that we are excusing ourselves to you? In the sight of God we are speaking in Christ. Everything we do, dear friends, is to encourage you. 12:20 I fear that when I come, I might find that you are not as I would like, and you might find that I am not as you would like. I fear that there might be arguments, jealousy, outbursts of anger, rivalries, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disturbances. 12:21 I fear that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieving for many people who have been caught up in sin and not repented of the uncleanness and sexual immorality and depravity which they have committed.