By Sam Greer
Senior Pastor, Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga
Speech was the last class I registered to take my final semester of junior college. One of my greatest fears through the years has been speaking in front of people. The main reason for this fear is my propensity to stutter. I am a stutterer. When God called me to preach, like Moses, I reminded God of my weakness. How will I preach as a stutterer? God reminded me that He never strengthens the strong, He strengthens the weak. I still have a propensity to stutter, but God is greater than any stutter or stutterer.
In II Corinthians 12:7b-10 and 13:2-8, Paul reminded the church at Corinth that God strengthens the weak through their weaknesses. As a believer, if you want to find strength, then look no further than your weakness. Paul offered four reminders when it comes to finding strength.
First, don’t exalt yourself! Paul the apostle was a sinner saved by grace. God’s grace was enough to save Paul. God’s grace was also enough to sustain him. Paul was a human being with the same bent that we all have, in the flesh, to make much of ourselves. In II Corinthians 12:7, the apostle was transparent about his “thorn in the flesh.” Paul the apostle was not one of the Avengers, like Thor, he was not a superhero. If he were an Avenger, then his name would have been “thorn” not Thor. Why “thorn”? After asking the Lord three times to remove the “thorn,” the Lord told Paul, that His power was made perfect in Paul’s weakness, which was the “thorn” in his flesh. (v. 9). Never exalt yourself, leave that to God!
Second, expose your weakness! Never discount your weakness, God specializes in using the weaknesses of the weak. Paul was not ashamed of his weakness because he realized that when he was weak, God made him strong. For Paul, the only way to become strong was to remain weak (v. 10). Furthermore, he not only became content in his weaknesses but he boasted in his weaknesses (v. 9). As a believer, don’t be ashamed of your weaknesses, God isn’t!
Third, don’t exempt yourself! Paul was the apostle of the apostles! Yet, he would not allow himself to exempt himself when writing to the local church. When calling the believers at Corinth to test themselves, Paul includes himself as one who had not failed the test (II Corinthians 13:6). No human being, this side of heaven, is exempt from having their faith tested or being tested in the faith. Don’t exempt yourself, Paul didn’t!
Fourth, examine yourself! What a powerful word in II Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether or not you are in the faith.” Why was Paul so adamant about these believers examining themselves? In II Corinthians 13:10, Paul gave his reasoning. The apostle wanted them to examine themselves and adjust their hearts and lives appropriately before Paul arrived. Upon his arrival and under the authority given to him as an apostle, Paul was required to examine the believers. Depending upon their spiritual condition, he would either build them up or tear them down.
Paul’s coming to the church at Corinth is a forecast of Jesus’ coming for His church. How important it is for people to examine themselves in this life before God gets the last word in the after life. Examine yourself before Jesus comes! Why? Strength is found not in the avoidance of fatigue, but in the presence of faith! Are you in the faith? B&R