“People will not see God or Paul rightly if Paul takes credit for what only God can do. Paul had to learn to regard weakness as a gift.” – Jason Meyer
Pastor Jason Meyer’s chapter on Pride in Killjoys: The Seven Deadly Sins is convicting, yet very helpful. In particular, Meyer brings a focus to Paul’s thorn in the flesh, and the pride-killing humility it brought about. Here is a powerful section:
Pride is so twisted it can plagiarize and take credit for anything good— even vivid visions of God’s glory.
This thorn was a torment to Paul. It was “in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12: 7) which I take to mean that it wasn’t outside the body. He experienced a deep and searing pain (i.e ., torment ). It was an affliction. Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away (2 Cor. 12: 8). But the Lord showed him that it served a purpose, a good purpose. Think about that statement for a second. God gave Paul chronic pain. Why? Paul needed chronic pain because his real problem was chronic pride. He needed to be humbled. Therefore, Paul received another vision: not a vision of heavenly glory, but a revelation of all-sufficient grace (2 Cor. 12: 9).
Paul’s response was to boast in his weakness (2 Cor. 12: 9). None of us naturally responds that way . Why would anyone draw attention to his weaknesses? Could there be a greater contrast between pride and humility? He draws the gaze of others to his own weakness because Paul’s weakness is the best backdrop against which others will see the beauty of God’s strength. People will not see God or Paul rightly if Paul takes credit for what only God can do. Paul had to learn to regard weakness as a gift. If we are going to keep humbly leaning on God through faith, we need to see how great our need is and how great his grace really is. Feeling strong can lead to a cesspool of self-sufficiency and independence that leads us away from God. Feeling weak is the best garden for the flowering of dependence upon God’s sufficient grace.