Listen:  128.1

The verse in question is 2 Corinthians 12:9, which reads, “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore  will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” The main question we want to answer is, “Why did the Lord Jesus say to Paul, ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness’?” The words “made perfect” in this verse means “accomplished or fulfilled,” so the Lord is saying, “My strength is accomplished in weakness.”  In short, I believe the Lord was telling Paul, “I can only accomplish my strength in you when you realize that you are weak.”

This makes me think of the words of the Lord Jesus in the upper room when He was instructing His apostles as to how they can bear fruit for God.  He said to them in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” One of the hardest lessons for us to learn after we’re saved is that we are just as powerless to bear fruit for God as we were powerless to save our souls from hell. In both cases we need the Lord Jesus. He died to save us from Hell, and now He lives for us in the glory and He wants to give us His strength so we can live a victorious life to the glory of God. Have we learned that lesson yet?

Paul learned this lesson well, as we see in the passage before us. In the beginning of the chapter we learn in verses 1-4, that Paul had been caught up to heaven and received revelations from the Lord.  God knew the temptation there would be for Paul to boast of this wonderful experience so He gave Paul a “thorn in the flesh” (which was, no doubt, some kind of physical affliction) to prevent him from being filled with pride, as we read in verses 5-7.  As we read in verse 8, Paul did what most of us would have done; he asked the Lord to remove it.  Then the Lord spoke those blessed words to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” The Lord was, in essence, saying, “Paul, I’m not going to remove the thorn; I’m going to give you the grace to bear it!” And the Lord did just that; He gave Paul the strength to endure the thorn in the flesh and Paul experienced more power than he had known before. Because of this Paul went on to say in verse 10, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  Paul could look at any adversity that came into his life and say, “I am glad for these trials, for then I realize how weak I really am in myself and I can then turn to the Lord for strength and He makes me strong.”  Elsewhere in Scripture Paul came to the same conclusion, for we read in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

I would like to point to one more passage from this same epistle to reinforce what we’ve seen. In chapter 4, verses 7-8 we read, “For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”  We have a wonderful treasure in us, dear fellow-believer, for we have the knowledge of God revealed to us through Jesus Christ. God wants that knowledge to shine out of these poor, weak bodies, or earthen vessels, of ours, but it’s only as we realize how weak we are that the power of God will be manifested. God uses trials to that end, to make us see our weakness so we will turn to Him for strength. Then, and only then, will God’s power be manifested through us and the life of Christ will shine out of us. Paul brings home that precious truth in verses 8-10, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”  (128.1)  (DO)