Christian Basics Bible Sampler - Page 44

2 Corinthians 12 • page 1334
cannot be expressed in words, things no
human is allowed to tell.
That experience is worth boasting about,
but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only
about my weaknesses. 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.
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.
Paul’s Concern for the Corinthians
You have made me act like a fool. You
ought to be writing commendations for me,
for I am not at all inferior to these “super
apostles,” even though I am nothing at all.
When I was with you, I certainly gave you
proof that I am an apostle. For I patiently
did many signs and wonders and miracles
among you. 13 The only thing I failed to do,
which I do in the other churches, was to
become a financial burden to you. Please
forgive me for this wrong!
Now I am coming to you for the third
time, and I will not be a burden to you.
I don’t want what you have—I want you.
After all, children don’t provide for their
parents. Rather, parents provide for their
children. 15 I will gladly spend myself and all
I have for you, even though it seems that the
more I love you, the less you love me.
Some of you admit I was not a burden
to you. But others still think I was sneaky
and took advantage of you by trickery. 17 But
how? Did any of the men I sent to you take
advantage of you? 18 When I urged Ti­tus to
visit you and sent our other brother with
him, did Ti­tus take advantage of you? No!
For we have the same spirit and walk in each
other’s steps, doing things the same way.
Perhaps you think we’re saying these
things just to defend ourselves. No, we
tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with
12:9 See The presence of God, page 1031.
Few of us like to be weak, and even fewer like to admit our weakness to others.
Yet the cross proves that God demonstrates his power through weakness, not
through strength. And though this is foolish to human ways of thinking, it is the
wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:18–2:5).
Weakness was not just a theological idea for Paul; he experienced it
personally. He writes here of “a thorn in my flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7) that
clearly made life difficult. We have no idea what this was. Some think it was
a physical condition, perhaps an eye disease since he mentions needing to
write in large letters (Galatians 6:11); others think it may have been particular
people, for while sickness is never described as a “thorn” in the Bible, people
are (Numbers 33:55; Joshua 23:13). Perhaps Paul was thinking of opponents who
constantly dogged his footsteps. Whatever it was, Paul saw it as “a messenger
from Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Yet despite much prayer, God hadn’t removed
this “thorn,” and Paul came to see why: It forced him to depend on God and
to learn the truth of Jesus’ words to him—“My grace is all you need. My power
works best in weakness” (12:9). Mature disciples, Paul came to understand,
don’t boast of their strength but of their weakness (12:9-10).

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