Ecclesiastes 1-3 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
“If I must brag, I will brag about the things that show I am weak.” (2 Corinthians 11:30 NCV)
In modern terms, we’d probably describe this section of 2 Corinthians as Paul’s “humble brag.” In the verses prior to this verse he listed his “Christian creds” as well as his Jewish background. The only other time we see Paul talking about his credentials was when he shared his testimony in the book of Acts, if I remember correctly. So what brought this braggadocio on? If we remember that Paul’s comments come in the middle of a discussion about some of the false teachers, it begins to make sense. I’m sure that word got back to Paul about the “accomplishments” of these teachers. They raised so much money. So many people showed up when they preached. Perhaps they even listed the number of people who were healed. These false preachers had great, worldly victories with huge numbers to show for their work. Paul’s response was to remind the Corinthians of how much he had suffered in the proclamation of the gospel, and how God had sustained him in his weaknesses.
Our world admires strength. People are willing to pay a lot of money to watch sporting events involving strength. Pay per view makes millions when they have a big-name boxing match. Football is one of the most watched sports on regular broadcast TV, and in baseball – we all love the guy who can hit long home runs. The ancient Romans had their gladiator fights, and other sports where only the strong survived. In the face of this cultural tradition, and, in the face of the bragging of those false teachers, Paul bragged about his weaknesses. The point was that if he accomplished something because of his weakness, then God was the one who did the work. The same is true for us today. If we do great things and brag about doing them in our own power, God doesn’t get credit. On the other hand, when God works through us in areas that would normally be considered weak areas, He gets the credit. And that’s the way it should be. God does amazing work in the “I can’t do that’s” of life. The old saying is that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. God uses us in many different ways. Sometimes, He takes the gifts and talents we already have and puts us to work for His glory. At other times, He puts us in situations that are beyond our abilities and gives us the strength to work for Him so that we’ll know, without a doubt, that He worked through us. The key to all of that is being open to God working in us.
Lord, You’ve done some amazing things with my weaknesses and I ask that You keep working through me. Remind me, though, that You’re the one working and all I did was make myself available to You.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.