God's Strength Is Perfect In Your Weakness
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Sunday 7th August 2016
I begin a new series today, titled ‘The Sufficiency of Grace’ with a preliminary message that I have titled ‘God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness’.
Here is our foundational scripture for this series in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. ‘I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 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. 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 is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’
As Christians, God’s grace is all we need to complete us. Our foundation scriptures in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 reveal a challenge that confronted St. Paul. The church in Corinth had been visited and indoctrinated by some so-called “super-apostles”. The eloquence of these teachers had captivated this assembly, to the point that Apostle Paul’s teachings had been relegated and categorised as inferior. On learning about this development, Paul wrote the church to set matters straight. In Chapter 11, he rolled out a series of credentials as a proof of his authenticity and qualification for planting and pioneering the church in Corinth. His credentials included his Jewish heritage, his Abrahamic lineage, servanthood, hard-work, imprisonment, persecution including flogging, stoning, shipwreck, death threats, sleep deprivation, hunger, thirst, inadequate clothing and so much more.
If chapter 11 highlighted St. Paul’s physical and material credentials, our foundation scripture for today in Chapter 12 focused on his spiritual experience with God. Although the full details of this spiritual experience was not revealed, we can safely assume that these revelations were magnificent. To keep him humble, Paul was given a thorn in the flesh. Although, he prayed thrice for this thorn to be removed, God’s response was simply this: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT).
Probably there is a challenging situation that has been a source of constant buffeting in our lives; God’s grace is all we need to live victoriously. The victory needed in our lives, cannot be found in our abilities or efforts. Our experiences and credentials will not suffice as St. Paul reminded us from our foundational scripture. Our victory is simply rooted in the grace of God. Paul’s writing is a call to the Church to pay close attention to the grace of God. This all-sufficient grace is all we need to live life victoriously.
Here is how it works: God’s power is made perfect, complete and effective in our weaknesses. When we come to the end of our limitations, God gives us a new beginning empowered by His strength – the reason why we cannot afford to give up in life. Our weaknesses become God’s raw material to reveal and demonstrate His strength.
Here is another way to describe this supernatural phenomenon: Our weaknesses become advantageous when it is connected to God’s limitless strength. Besides, God’s strength travels only through our weaknesses. In other words, the pain and challenges confronting each of us are not an indication of our real strength. They are only channels by which God’s real strength in us is demonstrated. So everything we may be going through presently is a journey of discovery to discover the strength that we are really made of. Here is how Apostle Paul put it, as revealed in 2 Corinthians 12:10, ‘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’ (NLT).
The Greek word for weakness is ‘Asthenia’, which means lack of strength, weakness and infirmity. In the body, it refers to feebleness of health; sickness. ‘Asthenia’ of the soul refers to a lack of capacity or the prerequisite to grasp the full meaning of an occurrence, concept or situation. It also refers to the lack of human wisdom; of skill in speaking and men-management. It could also refer to corrupt desires or an appetite for sin. (See Romans 6:9, 1 Corinthians 2:3, Hebrews 5:2). So whenever we face life’s challenges, let’s be reminded that our weaknesses are a launching pad for greater accomplishment. Hence, our focus cannot be directed on how bad life has treated us, but rather on how strong we’ve been made by God, despite the hardships.
Let’s focus on that phrase ‘My grace is sufficient for you’, picking out the word, sufficient. This refers to the phrase ‘To be possessed of unfailing strength’. In other words, God’s strength equips you with strength that cannot fail. So it means, you are stronger that you could ever imagine. St. Paul caps up verse 9 this way: ‘So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me’ (NLT). On acknowledging our weaknesses, Christ’s power and grace can rest upon us. The world will typically consider our weaknesses as a disadvantage, but God uses this all for His glory.
In changing the course of history, men and women have solely depended on God for their success, releasing their weaknesses to Him. These are God’s choicest candidates for the exhibition of His power. Here are a few bible characters to consider: Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, against a royal god named Pharaoh. This was an uphill task that no man would ever consider. Moses, understandably protested against the assignment as recorded in Exodus 3:10-12; 4:10-18. In the same way that God used Moses in delivering Israel, He can also use each of us to change the world.
The bible also records the stories of Joseph, Esther and Gideon. Each of them faced herculean tasks in their lifetime that required the supernatural intervention of God. For instance, Joseph’s dream bubble went through a season of deflation, ending up in prison before God rescued him. Esther was a slave girl, who became the wife of a foreign king. The perilous situation facing the Jews at the time was overturned by God’s intrusion. Gideon’s army was reduced from 32,000 to 300 in order to ensure that the glory did not in any way point to the proficiency of that army but to the unique handiwork of God.
I am a bit wary of those who have been called by God, and who believe in their abilities to perform their God-given assignment. Every call of God should be petrifying enough to send each of us to our knees for His help. Nothing He has called us to do, can be carried out in our own strength, we need His grace and power to bring that assignment to fruition.
Here are 5 truths in experiencing God’s strength in our weaknesses:
(1) Acknowledge your weakness and depend on God’s strength. Let’s God’s spirit tell you what to do.
(2) Never give up in life irrespective of the size of the problem.
(3) When you are weak, then you are strong – your weakness is an indication of divine strength.
(4) God’s power flows only through your weaknesses.
(5) God’s grace equips you to withstand any adversity in life; so connect to His grace.
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