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, or because of these surpassingly great revelations(2 Corinthians 11). Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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. That’s why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I’m weak, then I’m strong. 2 Corinthians 12:6-10
These aren’t verses to be read in passing or at a glance. As a matter a fact, if you’re given to boasting of your accomplishments independently of Christ, you should really pay special attention to these verses. If you’ll read the chapter in brackets, you will gain insight into Paul’s life and experiences- experiences on the surface that earned him bragging rights. But servants of Christ Jesus cannot take this approach. We know that our accomplishments are due purely to His Grace supplied to us. I know some in my audience may disagree, feeling that you’re self reliant and that it’s all about your hard work, brilliance and talent. But my question to you is this; where did that all come from? Your brilliance that is?
The apostle Paul had learned and studied under the best. He came to Jesus a scholar of Moses’ laws and teachings. He, like most, could argue any point and win. God is not against higher education or knowledge gained through faithful studying. He gave us the ability to learn and grow. What He cannot and will not abide are people who believe they’re self made. Let’s take a side trip from Paul for a moment to prove my point by looking at someone who thought he was self made. Let’s read:
(King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream) These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous, the tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. In the vision I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a Holy One, a messenger, coming down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruits.’
(Daniel responded) “Your Majesty, you are that tree! You will be driven away from the people and will live with wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone He wishes. “
Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon “I” have built as the royal residence, by “MY” mighty power and for the glory of “MY” majesty?” Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times (years) will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the MOST HIGH is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone He wishes. IMMEDIATELY what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled.—Daniel 4.
I chose a few verses for impact, but do read the entire chapter.
Verse 34: At the end of that time, (7 years) I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored(😂) Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever.
I think I’ll take God’s Grace; how about you? Paul discovered that only God’s Grace is sufficient to achieve all He has for us. Our next breath is from Him. So how can we boast about anything! God allowed Paul and king Nebuchadnezzar to learn that He will not share His platform with no one! No matter what you have achieved in life, know this,it was all by His GRACE. You’ll get through anything, by His GRACE. This is what the Sovereign Lord says we may boast in. Let’s read together shall we?
This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I AM the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight. Jeremiah 9:23-24
So where’s our boasting now? The humble will be exalted and the exalted will be humbled. Matthew 23:12.
Paul had his thorn in the flesh, he was given an irritant, Jesus allowed him to be tormented and there was nothing he could do about it until he acknowledged that his higher education and great visions would not serve God’s purposes. He learned that to accomplish great things for God, all that he needed was Grace, God’s Grace.
If you have had a thorn in your flesh, things aren’t going as you’d like, or maybe things are going great as with king Nebby, you may want to do a little self examination. Flesh (human effort) stinks to God. Humility brings Him on the scene to help you accomplish great things for Him. The choice is yours, His sufficient grace, a thorn in the flesh or grass….Selah
Merciful Savior, We sometimes forget that you are the reason for our existence. We often pat ourselves on the back for the things You have so graciously done in our lives. Please forgive me. Thank you for the thorn in my flesh that has made me realize and acknowledge that Your Grace is sufficient. In Jesus Name. Amen
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit.