IN CHRIST ALONE
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
BOAST, verb intransitive 1. To brag, or vaunt one’s self; to make an ostentatious display, in speech, or one’s own worth, property, or actions. 2. To glory; to speak with laudable pride and ostentation of meritorious persons or things.
We are taught as youngsters not to brag about ourselves. When one brags about oneself, others are repulsed.
How many of you want to walk away when a neighbor/co-worker/relative goes on and on about their latest exploit, biggest fish, longest run, best promotion, healthiest lifestyle? Have you ever actually excused yourself from a conversation like this? Please tell me your secret.
ALL THE MORE GLADLY
What I find interesting is that while we are indeed turned off by boasting, Paul turns it on its head to encourage boasting. But it’s not the same type. And not for the same reason.
Who has ever heard of sharing our weakness? In front of everybody? "Wow, yesterday I had such doubt I was paralyzed by fear." Or, "We do not have money to make the mortgage." "Or, I do not really like that person, so I am uncomfortable doing anything with her."
This type of flaunting is rare in a large group setting and possibly rare in a two-person coffee date. We put on makeup, wear our best outfits, drive nice cars, go into the garage and close the door to have less exposure to others. We have become plastic – like Ken and Barbie, living in a plastic house, driving a plastic car and having plastic personalities.
How did we get here?
I WILL BOAST ALL THE MORE
Paul has the key to unlock our selfishness. It is in our weaknesses that we turn our eyes upon Jesus. When we look at self, we always lose. Because the package that we present is hopelessly flawed. But when we boast about Jesus and what He has done, all eyes are upon Him, especially ours.
Being weak in today’s society is considered a no-no. Put your best foot forward. Frankly, that would not work for me. My best foot cannot even walk more that 50 feet at a time. And what you don’t see under the new hiking boots is layers upon layers of strapping and taping and months upon months of sheer pain.
Fake it until you make it. Who came up with this? While I do understand the concept behind it, what happened to being genuine? Plastering on a fake smile when you greet your enemy causes confusion. It creates the Barbie syndrome. If I just pretend, then this conversation will be over, I don’t have to apologize, or engage in a meaningful true-up. I am not obligated to untangle myself from someone who I do not want to associate with.
Paul boasts so that Christ’s power may rest upon him. Yes, his boasting is boasting about his weaknesses in this life which leaves all sorts of room for Jesus to fill those gaps or be IN the gaps. It is for Christ’s sake that Paul could endure hardships, beatings, shipwrecks, imprisonment and the like. It is for His name that Paul kept going and did not quit. It seems the more Paul boasted, the more he was able to do for God.
What was the secret? In that lauding, Paul was giving Christ all the glory. In his human strength or effort, he could not accomplish that which was worthy of Christ. When he was Saul, he accomplished a plethora of deeds including murder. But after his transformation, his accomplishments were BECAUSE of Christ and FOR Christ and Christ alone.
IN CHRIST ALONE
Christ’s power was definitely on him. He wrote about half the New Testament. He argued in front of statesmen. He reasoned with philosophers on Mars Hill. His very robe healed many. He talked about Jesus everywhere he went. Even to the guards he was chained to. Can you imagine spending day after day hog-tied to the apostle Paul? While he wrote the letters that comprise most of what we turn to in a crisis?
Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything.
Tell God what you need. And thank Him for all He has done. Philippians 4:6
Yes, Paul wrote these words. And yes, he was in a constant state of recovery of sorts from some awful injury. Paul had his eyes on his prize – the Author and Perfecter of his faith (Hebrews 12:1). He boasted all the more so that Christ’s power could rest on him. He needed that power to just live. Every. Single. Day. He could not get up in the morning without Christ’s power.
Ever feel like that? Ever want to stay in bed, hide and escape from responsibilities? Or people? Or pain? As I type this it has been almost a year since Coach diagnosed my cuboid dislocations. Broken feet. You put a cast on a broken bone, right? Well, in my case it has not been that simple. No doctor diagnosed this – Coach is a manual therapist working with athletes and putting them back together with manual manipulations. It is not only his strength that puts people back together, it is his knowledge of the human body. He knew what no doctor knew about me. And because of that, he is essentially casting my feet twice a week with straps and tape. I just graduated from the black boots to hiking boots to give my feet a different type of support, one that will offer help for the cuboids as well as ankle support. While my husband thinks my hiking boots are designed for hiking, they are actually part of my physical therapy to walk.
Where does one go from here? How can one boast and not brag? How can one keep eyes of self and onto Jesus? How can one do life?
Boast of our weaknesses – because we really don’t have it all together. Paul did not say boast about sins. No, that is entirely a different matter. He said to boast about weaknesses. We cannot accomplish anything in our own strength, only His. When we talk of Jesus in our circumstances our hearts are giving attention to Him and not ourselves. It IS impossible to keep going. Pulling up your boot straps are just that. Pulling up straps and nothing more. But, by putting on the full armor of Christ, which includes shoes of peace, then we go in the name and power of God.
I am weak. But with God all things are possible (Luke 1:37).
Lord, it is You who alone is worthy. It is You who alone I will keep my eyes upon. When I am weak, then I am strong. Because of You and only You. AMEN