Wednesday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

In What Should the Christian Boast?

Having listed his qualifications as an apostle, which Paul seems to think has less to do with his nativity and heritage and more to do with his labors and sufferings, he tells us of a divine encounter he had, which is yet another personal experience from the life of the great Apostle of which we would have no information had it not been for these wayward Corinthians and their preference for show over substance.  Only this time, Paul speaks not of his sufferings but of a tremendous revelation which God graciously gave him, so breathtaking in fact that Paul still couldn’t tell whether he was in the body or out of the body (in the spirit) when he was caught up into (the third) heaven.  But as was with recounting his sufferings, he is reticent to relate this event and so employs the third person as he writes, partly out of humility, partly because it was such a rapturous experience that it still, no doubt, seemed to him while it was happening as if he were on the outside watching himself rather than being the very same man who was raptured.  Regardless, in proof of his apostleship, Paul moves from sufferings he had experienced to revelations God had granted him.

And yet, he still doesn’t want to boast in that wonderful blessing.  Indeed, Paul relates an ongoing affliction God used to keep the Apostle humble, a “thorn in the flesh.”  Paul never tells us what that thorn was.  Some have surmised from his letter to the Galatians that Paul suffered from some chronic eye ailment (4:12-15), while others wonder about some kind of demonic harassment (“messenger of Satan,” ESV Study Bible, 2238).  We shall never know.  But that is unimportant.  What is important according to Paul is what God said to him when he pleaded with the Lord to take it away: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  So Paul concludes that he is content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities, for it is then that the power of Christ rests upon him, for it is when he is weak that he is then strong.

I don’t like these words; they scare me.  I can imagine a lot of awful things that could happen to me that our increasingly pagan society might soon dish out.  But God seems to prefer me weak; he likes it when I’m driven to my knees.  He wants me to rely solely on Him and not on a President, a court, or a nation.  He wants me to scorn the arm of flesh and grasp hold of the arm of God.  Pagans will always rely on the flesh and the world where they can manipulate matters to their chosen ends; they are naturals at that game (Luke 16:8).  Don’t envy them; our power is greatest when we are weakest.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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