Yesterday, we continued our conversation about the spiritual formation of St. Paul by considering the role of weakness in the process of Paul becoming conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.
Everyone has weakness. It is something internal and develops because of something we lack. We all have things we don’t know, proclivities to wrong behavior, tendencies towards addiction, desires to protect ourselves. If we are humble and aware, we could list 3-4 in the time it takes to read this sentence.
The question that Paul raises in 2 Corinthians 12.9b is ‘How will we respond to our weakness?’ Will we boast in them so that the power of Christ makes its home in me? Or will we compensate for them with sin so that no one sees them or we don’t feel them? I work the answers to this question out here and you will work on them in small groups this week.
What does it mean to boast? [some principles to guide how we might boast in weakness…]
1. We boast in what we know. We have had a positive experience, we can vouch for it, we agree with it. I went to W&M. Go Tribe!
2. We boast because we think it will improve our status or standing in the eyes of others. I went to the Grand Canyon and hiked the South Rim!
3. Boasting is verbal and public [foam finger is optional…]. We are boasting TO someone. We are inviting someone into our experience. Come see my new iPad…
4. When boasting about weakness, I suggest that we boast to God first– clearly, specifically, verbally. Then, as appropriate, we should consider boasting about our weakness to others in outwardly radiating concentric circles of intimacy– close friends and family, a small group…
At some point in St. Paul’s life, he embraced his thorn BECAUSE it made him weak. And Paul realized that being weak and having the power of Christ come to live in him was better than not having the thorn.
There is life and grace to be had in our weakness. May God teach us how to boast in them!