Humility and Humble Circumstances
Boasting In Weakness
“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.” 2Corinthians 12:9-10
- God has always been committed to the ingredient of human weakness as a core part of the demonstration of his power to save, and, as an exclamation point to the very nature of his grace…..from Abraham and Sarah and the birth of Isaac (an impossible age), to the defeat of Jericho Joshua 6:20 (walls collapsing to the sound of shouts) , to Gideon’s 300 vs. 100,000 Midianites Judges 6-7 , to David with his sling shot 1Samuel 17:45-47, to the birth and life of Jesus Christ in a manger; fleeing human authority; considered an illegitimate child; penniless & homeless; despised and rejected; finally dying on a Cross, to you, the Church of Jesus Christ on earth today.
- From all the Biblical examples in Scripture, the kind of weakness it is telling us to boast in seems to be this : Any point of human frailty or weakness- any event, any set of circumstances, any outward manifestation of the human condition in any sphere or area of life (excluding that which is sinful)- which helps demonstrate that God’s work of salvation simply cannot be attributed to human strength, but must be the result of God’s power being graciously and freely poured out on his people.
- The point in our lives where God delivers us at the place of weakness most clearly demonstrates for ourselves and for others the nature of God’s powerful work of salvation freely extended on all our behalf. It also aids in promoting a humble, confident faith to trust God’s grace and salvation all the more and results in the freedom to boldly follow a path of obedience in love even when our weakness and inability is evident.
- God’s power is perfected in our weakness precisely because this is the arena most suitable to demonstrate how his grace and mercy work in a fallen world – the free blessing of God’s salvation for those who could never achieve it on their own.
- The reason God’s power is not demonstrated at the point in our lives where we sense our own strength is simply because that sends the wrong message about the Gospel, and leaves us and others more open to idolatry and its fruit -disobedience. Boasting in self, in human achievement, in human endeavor – whether it is a boasting in acquired economic power or productivity, or educational prowess, or artistic expression, or anything else – as the source of our deliverance for any aspect of life, aids the kind of destructive, sinful pride which seeks to make us independent from God and is the core problem of sin that ends in harming ourselves, harming others and even seeking to harm God. That kind of boasting helps turn these good gifts from God into idols that we are attracted to, to rely upon to provide the security, deliverance and confidence for life we are meant to get from faith in God alone.
- The opportunity for boasting in weakness emerges constantly, because no matter what we do, human weakness has a tendency to break out all over the place. The freedom for the child of God is to acknowledge the presence of his/her frailty and cast himself/herself upon the Lord with great confidence, in faith, for God’s intervening grace to take a situation that would “humanly” and “naturally” bring defeat and/or despair, and look to God to bless it with his saving Presence, and bring glory to Himself out of it.
- The Scriptures do not call us to boast in weakness in a way that excuses irresponsibility. Nor do the Scriptures encourage us to “pursue” weakness as a goal in itself – as an attribute that has a saving value (as some would do with poverty); that is, “for our sake”, that we might gain a sense of self-righteousness. Rather, as we seek to serve God and lay down our lives as living sacrifices and seek His kingdom and seek to endure everything for the sake of God’s people, our weakness (and the weakness of others) will emerge and along with it, the opportunity for believing God’s power to graciously meet us there and see His power clearly demonstrated. We are called to be willingly to endure that, for Christ’s sake. And not just endure it, but even learn to delight in it.
- A true understanding and laying hold of God’s free grace is the hardest thing for believer and unbeliever alike to grasp. How God blesses us with his glory – the context and the avenue in which it takes place – is a crucial means of convincing others that this glory of God’s grace is for them as well.
- All this requires a reshaping our thinking about life.
We need to look for this “pattern” in small, everyday ways (it can revolutionize the “frustration factor”), and then these lesser issues will heavily influence our perspectives on weightier matters – large movements of history that we are caught up in and a part of.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. ….For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength…. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore as it is written, ‘ Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” 1Corinthians 1:18-31