“For when I am weak, then I am strong”
What a contradiction that statement of Paul seems to be! Could we say that? The final two chapters of 2 Corinthians which we read today is an emotional plea to the believers at Corinth.
In both his letter to Galatians (4:11) and 1 Thessalonians (3:5), Paul says
“I am afraid I may have laboured over you in vain”.
We read today how he is equally concerned about the converts he has made at Corinth.
Jesus made Paul weak when he blinded him on the road to Damascus. Believing in Jesus can lead some people to become proud. The Jewish leaders were proud of their heritage as
“the children of Abraham”
but Jesus said,
“If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did” (John 8:39).
And what did Abraham do? He did things in faith!
His belief in God changed his life! And Paul came to really know God through knowing God’s Son, it changed his life – it gave him something genuine to live for! We all have to ask ourselves, what is changing our lives? It is a life-long experience!
As Paul brings his letter to a conclusion he bluntly says,
“Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (13:5).
Are you really living by faith? Corinth was a very immoral city, and the potential failure of some to “meet the test” may well be that they had been overcome by the environment in which they lived. Surely this is a great danger for us!
“I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality they have practiced” (12:21).
If Paul was alive today would he have cause to mourn if he visited the place where you worship or came to your home?
Paul wrote in verse 9 that Jesus had said to him,
“my power is made perfect in weakness”.
The “power” of the religious leaders who crucified Christ – was destroyed by their exercise of power!
What a challenge to follow in the footsteps of Paul when he wrote,
“I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10).
This is, strong in the ways he (and ourselves?) serve Christ!
At the end of his first letter to the Corinthians Paul had written,
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (16:13).
Surely a message we must take to heart today.