This is one of my favorite verses…
This morning, when my Facebook feed was filled with images of this verse my heart swelled, ‘cause it is a truth we need to hear. I love seeing friends share the word of God daily as they do their own studies. I’m encouraged that this section of scripture speaks deeply to so many.
In the middle of the familiar comfort found in one of my favorite verses came a sinking feeling in my belly. A knot that form as I stomach the reality of the power contained in this passage. The beauty of this verse is one that I wrestle with since beauty doesn’t always come as I’d imagined it.
This is the beauty of the brokenness, ugliness and weakness I live every day as it meets the love of God. This almost oxymoron of a situation is the exact spot where the true beauty is seen: as the desperation of my situation meets the awesome power of the gospel.
I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses…
Sigh… deep breath now…
This all sounds great… except for the boasting in my weakness part. I’d like to boast in Christ, I’d like to boast in how his sacrificial love has changed my life. I’d like to boast in how in him I am made new. I’d like to boast in what it means to be a beloved Child of God.
And yet… to truly boast in those is to first acknowledge my weaknesses…
‘Cause the good news of God’s great love, sacrifice, redemption and plan for me loses its power when I don’t speak the truth of who I am without it…
The Gospel is the most amazing love story ever told… if we tell the whole story.
Read what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:
7So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Here’s the problem: Boasting in our weaknesses doesn’t mean that suddenly, because we have admitted our faults, that God makes our weaknesses disappear. Paul pleaded three times that his would be taken away. God didn’t say yes. When I turn that to myself, well… that hurts deep down inside at the place where pride likes to hide.
Here at our weakest point is where we find strength in God alone… my grace is sufficient for you…
Golly some of us are going to struggle with the reality of that for a minute.
For many of us, what we need to do is fight (with all that we have) the façade that our strength is enough… our effort is sufficient… our righteousness is good enough…
We need to daily take up our cross. We need to daily remember that we lay down our life to follow God.
That should be freeing… why do we make it into slavery? How have we turned the tables on being slaves to sin into feeling like we are slaves to grace. How have we made the grace of Christ, sufficient to cover all our sins, something to be ashamed of and avoided like the plague?
Probably because it goes like this: we’ve lied to ourselves.
(Harsh! Trust me I know.)
But for far too long we’ve grown away from the power of the gospel to which we were saved: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
We know that in Christ we are to be a new creation and yet each morning when the alarm sounds, we get out of bed (sometimes even before) we are confronted by the old sinful nature as the reality of Romans 7 plays out in our very lives… At that very moment, when we could turn to Christ, when we have that wonderful privilege because of what he has done for us on the cross, because the veil that used to separate us from God has been torn, because the power sin and death were defeated, when we can run to him… confess… have the assurance our sins our forgiven…
And yet… at that moment, instead, in pride, we hide.
We hide those sins that are in our head. We stuff down the brokenness in our hearts. We cover up the weaknesses that are just waiting to break forth. Because if anyone sees them then they will know the truth.
Friends: we already know the truth! Why are we trying to make another way other than the gospel?
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Galatians 3:2-3
Why do we try to boast in our strength or our own efforts when we know none exists worth boasting?
Oh, how our pride gets us into so much trouble! Fed with the lie that has been killing since the garden: we can be like God. The lie that whispers that instead of obedience… instead of reliance… instead of true communion… our misguided notions of self-preservation tell us to try to be like God. Try…
But we can’t. It is fatal to try.
Friends, here these words: ignoring the fatal is futile.
You can add white wash to a tomb but it is still a tomb. We either die to ourselves and come alive to Christ or we just die…
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Paul faced his weakness and because of the overwhelming love, grace, and mercy of God he could boast in it… because God’s power is made perfect in weakness. His perfect plan meets us right when we choose to give to him the burdens we’re carrying of trying to do this all on our own.
When Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” What greater burden are we heavy laden with than the unachievable burden of trying to make ourselves perfect, to achieve righteousness of our own efforts?
His grace is sufficient when we (again) meet the end of ourselves and look right to the perfect power of the cross.
Are you boasting in the right things today?
Is the image you are presenting to the world one that glorifies you or glorifies Christ?
Are you willing to share your weakness so that Christ’s power may rest on you?
Are you willing to share your struggles so that others may receive the life-changing grace of God in their own?
Paul said, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” He didn’t mean he would brazenly boast in his sins as if they were accomplishments to receive commendation. No sin isn’t something to boast in; our weaknesses not a thing to aspire to growing. Instead, the very act of acknowledging truth, no matter how painful, brings the light of life to the darkness in which death has a strangle hold on us. Because in that moment, God’s power is perfect.
That, dear friends, is the power of this truth:
”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Will you choose to live it today?
There are a few other posts I would recommend you’d read if this topic hits close to home: