A MAN IN CHRIST
Loving Father, you are my provider. Teach me what it means to really trust in you.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 12:1-10
Paul’s Vision and His Thorn
12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I 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. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even 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, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That 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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectAsk for God to reveal himself to you today.
Continuing his reluctant boasting, Paul turns to his spiritual experience. Perhaps the ‘super-apostles’ thought that their own visions made them superior. Paul modestly talks about ‘a man in Christ’, but it becomes evident that he is referring to his own spectacular revelation. Jewish rabbis had various schemes of multiple heavens, but Paul seems to mean he was caught up to the presence of God (vs 2–4).
While most of us worry lest others think too little of us, Paul is afraid others may think too highly of him (vs 5,6). We know from the book of Acts that Paul received several visions, but this is the only mention of this in his letters, because he wants to be judged on words and actions. To make sure that he did not boast, Paul was given a ‘thorn in the flesh’ (v 7). Whatever form this weakness took, it was both a messenger from Satan and something used by God: a reminder that God can use all things for good (see Romans 8:28). The weakness is transformed into a source of boasting, not because it is removed, but because it remains and ensures that Paul is all the more dependent upon God’s grace. Rather than boast about his supernatural visions, he boasts about his frailty because it puts the focus on God’s strength.
Think of a Christian whose reliance on God’s grace, despite suffering or weakness, has impressed you. Ask the Lord for strength to cope with your problems.
Dear Lord, in my weakness, I constantly need to learn to trust in you. Infuse me with enabling as I struggle with issues in my life.
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