Apr9MonApril 9, 2018
Blog Post – CPR Reflection 13
This week is an off-week if you are reading The Imperfect Disciple with us. However, since I didn’t get anything out last week, I’ve decided to put something on the blog from last week’s chapter: “Does Grace Go All the Way Down?”
Wilson presents some thoughts on Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians; specifically, he considers the 12th chapter. Here is the passage:
I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So 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. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 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 12:1-10 ESV)
In regards to this, Wilson makes some helpful comments:
"I must go on boasting," Paul says in verse 1 "On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses," he says in verse 5. "I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses he says in verse 9.
What in the world is he talking about? What does it mean to boast in weakness?
I think by "boasting in weakness" Paul means that we ought to own our weakness. To own up to it.
It does not mean throwing a pity party. It does not mean having a martyr's complex. It does not mean being Debbie Downer. It does not mean the kind of self-conscious self-deprecation that actually brings more attention to one's self. It is not a false humility.
It simply means owning up to the reality that if it were not for Jesus Christ, everything about us would blow apart in the gale-force hurricane of our own sin and frailty.
There is more security, in fact, with Christ in the middle of a stormy sea than without Christ in the warm stillness of our bathtub. In fact, the end of verse 10 unlocks the purpose of boasting (or owning) our weakness: "For when I am weak, then I am strong."
I think this is great stuff. We need constant reminder that at every turn of our walk with God on the path of discipleship, we rely of Jesus Christ and his grace. No. Matter. What.
We are quick to rely on our own strength, our own wisdom, our own ability to do what needs to be done. We can be strong we tell ourselves. Well, yes, we can. But not apart from him and the help he provides us.
This is often a difficult thing to own, and own up to. It means that we, in and of ourselves, don’t measure up. But, the reality is, we don’t. Sin and our sinful nature suggest to us that we should be ashamed of our weakness and hide that weakness from others. But Paul admonishes us to boast in it.
In Galatians 6:14 Paul comes at the same idea from a different angle. He writes, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (ESV, emphasis mine).
Boasting in our weakness is not something we should be ashamed of because it is boasting in the cross. It is saying, “Apart from Jesus, and his work on my behalf, I have nothing and am nothing. But, because he has graciously saved me through the gospel, I will boast in my weakness.”
This is the kind of Saviour we need. This is the kind of gospel we need. A gracious Saviour and a gospel of grace that goes all the way down to our deepest need.