Isaiah 7:10-25; 2 Corinthians 11:22-33; Psalms 55:1-11; Proverbs 15:24-26
NT: “Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-30 CSB)
The Judaizers and false prophets that had infiltrated the Corinthian church were quick to tout their spiritual resume and boast in all their qualifications. By doing that, they were attempting to undermine Paul’s authority and negate his influence. Paul responded by writing that he could easily boast in the same things… in fact, he could boast in even more – but he had something else to boast in that the Judaizers and false prophets could not.
As a servant of Christ, Paul had not jockeyed for position in the new movement by flaunting his credentials. He had fully counted the cost and paid the cost of servanthood. He had taken up the cross and drunk the cup of suffering. He would not boast in his strengths. Instead, he would boast in the Lord’s grace of strength that he experienced as he greatly suffered for righteousness sake.
It can be tempting to boast in your strengths, but in the end, that merely draws attention to yourself and promotes you. Earlier in this letter, Paul wrote about God’s glory being poured into fragile jars of clay so that His strength would all the more be glorified. Here, Paul detailed how he lived out life as a “jar of clay” that was pressed on every side but was not broken because of the grace and glory of God within him. Paul’s suffering undoubtedly drew attention, but as he endured by the Grace of God, God ultimately received glory. Are we willing to endure suffering for righteousness sake and allow our challenges to ultimately boast in God?
Psalms: “God, listen to my prayer and do not hide from my plea for help. Pay attention to me and answer me. I am restless and in turmoil with my complaint, because of the enemy’s words, because of the pressure of the wicked. For they bring down disaster on me and harass me in anger. My heart shudders within me; terrors of death sweep over me. Fear and trembling grip me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “If only I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and find rest. How far away I would flee; I would stay in the wilderness. Selah I would hurry to my shelter from the raging wind and the storm.”” (Psalms 55:1-8 CSB)
Many scholars believe that this psalm was written during Absalom’s attempt at overthrowing David’s reign. If so, David’s suffering was not for righteousness sake. Absalom’s rebellion was a direct consequence of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Even still, good could still come from David’s suffering. David had since repented from his sin and had been restored to right relationship with God. In the midst of this suffering, David had a choice. He could either become overwhelmed by his circumstances and run away and hide, or he could stand fast in faith and allow God to use David’s circumstances to grow him even more into maturity. The challenge that David faced would give him the opportunity to boast in his weaknesses and boast all the more in his merciful and powerful God.
Prayer: Lord, while it is tempting and so much easier to boast in my strengths and qualifications, what brings You the most glory is to boast in how Your strengths have overcome my weaknesses and made me capable of things that I could never have done on my own. Help me to not hide my weaknesses, but to boast in them so that You receive all the glory through my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.