So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7–10)Paul knew helplessness. He also knew grace and the power of God. I did too, but I had never connected my complaining about uselessness with this being a desirable state. I’d adopted the world’s idea about the need for confidence and assurance. How can anyone serve God without it?
Spurgeon says no one can serve God WITH it. Today’s devotional reading begins with these absolutely true words, “A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God’s work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness.”
Whenever I have tried to do anything with confidence in my own abilities, defeat is certain. God never equips me to do anything as long as I am sure of myself. Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
In all the military conquests of the Old Testament, those who went forth to fight boasting of their power or failing to ask God to guide them, always returned in defeat and disgrace. New Testament spiritual battles are no different. Fighting spiritual enemies requires spiritual resources.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:4)All Christian ministry and service requires His strength and direction. As Spurgeon says, those who serve God must serve Him in His way and in His strength, or He will never accept their service. Anything I do unaided by divine strength, He will not support.
The rub is that as long as I think I have one iota of ability or knowledge about anything, my sinful nature is apt to run with it. By doing that, and failing, I must learn the hard way that His strength is not given unless asked for — in humility and helplessness.
Most of us fall into thinking that smart, talented people are of use to God. I’ve learned that God must break all reliance on personal intelligence and abilities. This is about who gets the glory, but it is also about the being effective. My ways are flawed, but God’s ways are never wrong and never miss the target. No matter how good my ideas, His work and mine do not. Obviously, relying on Him and His ways is far easier when I feel helpless.
********Lord, Your Word says that You choose me before the foundation of the world. That I understand. However, I also now understand something else about the way You make Your choices.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:27–31)Finally, I am content to be a dummy.