“Who Are You When I’m Not Looking?”

(2 Corinthians 12: 6-10) 6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I have always been one to learn things the hard way.  I learn by doing.  I can read instructions, listen to direction, yet it doesn’t truly click with me until I do it…especially until I try, and fail. 

Failures and weaknesses are most often painted in a negative light.  When we fail, we feel shame and regret, and we are even embarrassed because of the blow to our pride.  We keep our weaknesses hidden, for fear that someone might find out that we are, after all, human.  Boasting about a weakness seems strange, and almost ridiculous.  Why would someone admit to being weak?  Why would we ever choose to bare our wounded paws, thorns on display for the world to see? 

Much of what we do as Christians, what we are called to do rather, involves sacrifice.  We are often compelled to do things that are uncomfortable…things that tear down our protective walls and bring that which is hidden into revelation…because it is through the sacrificial act that we are fully surrendered and humbled.  God is, through our frailty and shortcomings, shaping our characters and building our testimonies.  Humility is imperative to this process of spiritual growth and maturity, because we are so quick to fall into the trap of pride and boasting.  We have this humanity-based sense of strength and success that is very warped, because we tend to look at things through the lens of a sinful perspective…through the spectacles that have been handed to us by the world.  We seem to think that we must never be viewed as “weak” (as it is perceived through the eyes of society).  Yet Paul is urging us to embrace our weaknesses as strengths!  Why?  Because we LEARN by doing, by failing, and through experiencing the nagging pain of that thorn in our flesh.  It is a painful, yet necessary, reminder that we aren’t there yet…that God is still working in our lives.  It is an ever-present prompt that begs our hearts to stay vigilant and faithful on the journey toward sanctification.  Where we are weak, He is strong.  When we are humbled, He lifts us up.  We are able, through the grace and love of Jesus Christ, to move from glory to glory…victory to victory…yes, even with the ache of that thorn, which makes us only that much more victorious.  We win…even with sin…our inevitable and aggravating handicap! 

(1Corinthians 1: 30-31) God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

The important thing to remember here is that we must be honest with God and with ourselves.  If you don’t recognize the thorn in your flesh, it’s probably a good idea to be honest about that.  When you can look inside yourself and see that weakness, name it, and accept it for what it is, Satan is stripped of his power over you in that instant.  Take charge of it, and thank God for it, because He cares enough to keep you honest and humble.  We are not slaves to the thorn.  It’s just there.

What’s more, we must be aware, and make every effort to be sure, that who we are when no one else is around is still seeking to honor, love and reflect God in all ways.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, every day presents a new challenge as I endeavor to walk with You.  Help me to be humble when my pride begins to take over.  When I become numb to the pinch of that thorn in my flesh, I ask that you give it a little nudge.  I never want to forget who I am, who I was, or who I aim to be, because I realize that my weaknesses make me stronger in You.  Amen.

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