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(Part 82)


June 20, 2015

Today’s readings:
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Psalm 34:8-13
Matthew 6:24-34

Yesterday we looked at the humility of a servant leader, and how worldly acclaim can bring him down. Pride unfortunately is part of our fallen nature, and no one is immune, even the greatest among God’s people like Paul (in fact those who are great are most at risk). God gave Paul “visions and revelations” (2 Cor 12:1) and Paul “was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter.” (2 Cor 12:4). Wow! That is so much more than just worldly applause. So Paul said, “if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth.” (2 Cor 12:6a).

God protected Paul. As Paul himself acknowledges, “that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.” (2 Cor 12:7b). The blessings were great, the antidote to pride was also great, an angel of Satan himself!

Now Paul had said (yesterday) that he would boast of the things that show his weakness. Now he explains why. “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” (2 Cor 12:9b). You see, we do God’s work. We are mere instruments. When we begin to focus on our own abilities or strengths, engendering pride, then we fall. But when we see that we are nothing apart from God, when we recognize that we in fact are oftentimes the obstacles to God’s work, when we then look to God’s power, then that power of God enters into us.

Is that not liberating? We do not need to look to our own strength. We can go forth to do God’s work even with our shortcomings. The grace of God is sufficient to those who are His true instruments. Jesus himself assured Paul, as he does us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9a).

What divine contradiction! Worldly leaders always project strength and hide weaknesses, always look to positive results and abhor seemingly negative things. But if we work for Christ, then our spiritual well-being is not dependent on outcomes. We simply serve. “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10). In humility, God exalts us. In weakness, God strengthens us.

This is why Jesus tells us, “do not worry about your life” (Mt 6:25a). This is not only about food and clothing, but also about service. Just serve humbly and simply, and he who calls us to serve will provide whatever you need. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Mt 6:33).

We do our part, and God does His. We are to fear Him, take refuge in Him, seek Him. Then everything else falls into place. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he saves them. .... blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him. .... nothing is lacking to those who fear him. .... those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Ps 34:8-11).

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