Summary: This word teaches the proper view of weakness in the life of the Christian.

What? Are You Weak or Something?

2 Corinthians 12:9

February 29, 2004


A. [When We Are Weak, We Are Strong, Citation: Joni Eareckson Tada, quoted in My Heart Sings. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 1.]

I relive each moment of my visit with Corrie ten Boom (paralyzed by a stroke). I recall how our eyes met as we were fed our cucumber sandwiches. Helpless and for the most part dependent, I felt our mutual weakness. Yet I am certain neither of us had ever felt stronger. It makes me think of the Cross of Christ--a symbol of weakness and humiliation, yet at the same time, a symbol of victory and strength. ...

For a wheelchair may confine a body that is wasting away. But no wheelchair can confine the soul, ... the soul that is inwardly renewed day by day. For paralyzed people can walk with the Lord. Speechless people can talk with the Almighty. Sightless people can see Jesus. Deaf people can hear the Word of God. And those like Tante Corrie, their minds shadowy and obscure, can have the very mind of Christ.

B. [Citation: N.T. Wright in For All God’s Worth. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 12.]

We live in a world full of people struggling to be, or at least to appear, strong in order not to be weak; and we follow a gospel which says that when I am weak, then I am strong.

C. Today, I want to look at 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 and see if we can learn what the Christian’s attitude should be towards weakness. [read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10]

I. Acknowledge your weaknesses

(2 Corinthians 12:5 NIV) I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

A. The apostle Paul acknowledged his weakness.

1. Paul did not pretend to be something that he wasn’t.

2. Paul did not try to convince himself that he was something that he wasn’t.

3. Paul first acknowledged his weakness.

B. Paul allowed himself to know that he had weaknesses.

1. Now that may sound like a strange statement, but when you stop to think about it, we usually try to convince ourselves that we don’t have any weaknesses.

2. And I must say that that is a lie of satan.

4. This is the Word of God as spoken through the apostle Paul.

5. Paul allowed himself to know that he had weaknesses.

6. Deep down, we all know that we have them, but we don’t allow ourselves to know it.

7. We allow satan to convince us that we are strong.

8. We allow satan to convince us that we can handle things.

9. We allow satan to convince us that we are ok.

10. We allow satan to convince us that we really are a good person.

C. But what the Christian does (as demonstrated by the apostle Paul) is that we own up to our weaknesses.

1. Stop pretending that you have it all together and be honest about yourself.

2. Instead of living in denial, you should stop make excuses for yourself and start making a list of your weaknesses.

3. There are too many people who call themselves Christians who are trying to fool themselves, God, and everyone else into thinking that they have it all together.

4. The trouble is that God and everyone else knows that you don’t have it all together and you are the only one you are fooling.

D. Now I know that there are a lot of Christians and preachers that want to talk about the supernatural stuff in this text.

1. They want to talk about the fellow who was caught up to the third heaven.

2. They want to talk about this fellow who was caught up to paradise.

3. They want to talk about out of body experiences.

4. They want to talk about inexpressible things that man is not permitted to tell.

5. They want to talk about receiving surpassingly great revelations.

6. They want to talk about tormenting by satan.

7. But that is not what this text is about!

8. Yes, they are in the Word of God and they are things that some people do receive, but the pathway to receiving such experiences is the pathway of weakness.

9. THAT’s what the apostle is teaching here!

10. Some people just want to hear and talk about and study what they are interested in, but this is not what the apostle Paul was teaching here.

11. Paul said he would go on to visions and revelations, but first he needed to talk to them about the different between strength and weakness and the rewards of being weak.

E. So what are the weaknesses that the apostle is referring to?

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