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Strength & Weakness
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

6750320769_5c559333c8Since we need real strength in light of our real weakness, let’s meditate on 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. Here Paul completes his persuasive argument that the Corinthian Christians should reject the so-called “super apostles” (v. 13) who were trying to strong-arm the church. Rather, he argues, they should listen to him because, though he is every bit as strong as the aforementioned super apostles (11:16-12:10), he ministers out of weakness.

In these verses, we see two truths and two applications.

Truth #1: The Lord’s Grace Is Sufficient for You

There is a sense in which all you need to know when facing your weaknesses is this: God is for you. Though you were a sinner set against God, in Jesus Christ you are forgiven and adopted. You are no longer a rebel against the King, you are a royal son or daughter. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31b-32).

Truth #2: Christ’s Power is Made Perfect in Weakness

Here made perfect means “reaching completion or fullest extent.” The root of the word in the original language is connected to the idea of telescoping. Christ’s power telescopes into our weakness, extending most fully where we are weakest. For Paul, this meant that Christ worked powerfully in and through his “thorn” to humble and prompt prayer in him (v. 7-8). What’s your thorn? What might Christ be doing in your life and through it?

Application #1: Boast Gladly in Your Weakness

To “boast” means to hold your head up high in reference to your weakness. Christians need not run and hide from their weaknesses. They need not medicate or escape their thorns. Why? Because when we embrace our weakness, the power of Christ rests upon us (v. 9). It’s not that we’re able to unlock our potential through our weakness. It’s not that our struggles produce our strength. It’s that our weakness and struggle open the door to the power of Christ, which calms storms, raises the dead and enables ordinary men to walk on water.

Application #2: Be Content With Weakness

This doesn’t mean to settle in and enjoy it. It means to recognize that God is working wonders through it. Paul lists five forms of weakness with which the Christian can be content:
  1. Weaknesses (inabilities)
  2. Insults (those things which add insult to injury)
  3. Hardships (serious, urgent needs)
  4. Persecutions (being hunted like an animal)
  5. Calamities (pressure and stress)

Because the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us and Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness, we can boast in and be content with our weakness. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(No audio this time. Sorry!)

Discussion Starters

  1. Share with the group your #1 area of weakness right now.
  2. How might Christ’s power extend into your area of weakness? What might God be doing in and through you while you struggle?
  3. What would it look like to “boast in your weakness?” What ways are you tempted to run and hide from it, rather than seeing it as a beneficial tool in the Lord’s hands?
  4. What would it look like to be content with your weakness?
  5. Of the list of weaknesses in the end of verse 10, which have you experienced lately? (weaknesses (inabilities), insults (those things which add insult to injury), hardships (serious, urgent needs), persecutions (being hunted like an animal), calamities (pressure and stress).
  6. Pray for one another by name related to each person’s current weakness. Thank the Lord for his grace and ask for help to hold your heads up high in reference to your weakness and to be content.

(Picture credit: Bhope34)