“BLESSED ARE THE WEAK”                             By Pastor YAU

Text: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10                                     July 27, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)      Words of a successful businessman: The speaker of a high school commencement was the president of a successful corporation. He was chosen for the occasion because of his success in the business world. Yet his speech came with a most unusual wish for the graduates. The speaker told the students sitting before him in their graduation gowns, “If I could have one hope for you as you go out into the world, it would be this: I hope you fail. I hope that you fail on something that is important to you.” He went on to say how his own early life had been one failure after another, until her learned to see failure as an effective teacher.

2)      Words of a successful spiritual man: Among all the saints God sent to His people, Paul is one of the most respected. While he has done so much for the Lord and His church, he was chosen to suffer so much weakness and pain. At his later years of life, he wrote to the Corinthian Christians on the part of life in which he asked God to repeatedly to spare his weakness and pain. In conclusion, he said, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But the Lord said to me: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in (the) weakness (of man.)” (2 Corinth. 12:8-9) The experience of Paul has been the inspiration and strength for millions of people in the 2,000 years of Christian history.

 

THE WEAK IN THE BIBLE: Can’t count them all, just a few here:

1)    Weak on His faith: We all know and respect Abraham for his faith in God. His faith put him on the journey to an unknown land for which he was honored as the father of faith. But even in such a man known for his faith in the Almighty God, he was weak in his faith when he listened to his wife instead of his God to have a son God promised to give him. (Genesis 15)Because of his weak in faith, he brought trouble to his family and his descendants even today.

2)    Weak on his character: The people and the nation of Israel got their name from this man, Jacob, who was given a new name Israel. (Gen. 35:10)He was honored as the ancestor of the people of Israel. But we all can find many character faults in his life. From the way he cheated his brother Esau the title and blessings of the first born to his sneaky way of cheating his father and father-in-law. Some people may wonder why and how could God make a man like Jacob great in the Bible.

3)    Weak on his moral life:  As much as the honor King David was given and remembered, his lapses on moral values in the way he stole a woman from her husband and schemed to kill the man. He did not just provide a reason for his enemies to mock his God, he sowed the seed for family strives and the split of his kingdom. He has been, for thousands of years, the bad example of human moral defect history.

4)    Weak on his courage: Countless children were inspired by the story of Prophet Elijah and his mighty victory on Mt. Carmel when he called on God to send fire from heaven to burn the sacrifice and the stones. But his fear for his life on the threat from Jezebel and his running to the wilderness where he asked God to take his life. It makes me wonder how a man of great courage one day becomes so frightened the next day. Where is his courage the day before?

5)    Weak on his greed: Even though God instructed Balaam not to go with the messengers sent by the king of the Moabites to curse the people of Israel, he was tempted by the tricks of treasures and honor, Balaam eventually went with them intended to put a spell on Israel. Since then, count less people use their position and prestige and betray the trust of God and people for their personal gain. Balaam serves as example of bad apple in the family of God’s faithful servants.

6)    Weak on his obedience: Countless children love the story of Prophet Jonah. His running from the call of God and his life in the belly of a great fish is so inspiring that books were written and stories were told. He could have become a hero of salvation for the people in Nineveh, instead became a bad example of disobedience hatred.

7)    Weak on his standing: Being the natural leader of the Twelve, Peter was honored to be the spokesman of the disciples. His zeal that prompted him willing to die for Jesus disappeared overnight. Before anyone else of the Twelve did anything to show their weakness, Peter was the first to deny his Lord. No one knows what was on the mind of Peter when he disowned His Lord. Fear for his life or overwhelmed by the situation or any other reason that made him lost his standing with Jesus.

8)    Weak on his forgiving: Mid-way on their first missionary trip, John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, couldn’t take the hardship and left the team and returned to Jerusalem. (Acts 13:12)Paul was very unhappy of this young man. When they planned the next trip, Paul refused the suggestion of Barnabas to take Mark along. He took Silas and Luke to his second journey. Barnabas gave Mark a second change which changed Mark’s life and strengthened his commitment. Years later, in prison cell, Paul urged Timothy to bring Mark along to visit him and credited Mark as “helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:11)Can you forgive someone and give him a second chance?

 

WHY HAS GOD CHOSEN THE WEAK?

1)     Because there is no strong one: While the captured Israelis mourned for the loss of their nation and people, hoping to have someone strong enough to rescue them from their captors, God sent Isaiah to tell them there is no strong one who may rescue them from their plight. God is the only strong one who is the ultimate hope of their nation and future. “Even the youth grows tired and weary and the strong stumble and fall; but those who hope in the lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)Paul classified all men are sinners; all have come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

2)     Because God can make the weak strong: In the above Bible references, God promised the Israelis that He is the whole source of strength, especially for the weak. God wants us to realize that strength comes from Him and He is the ultimate source of power and strength. We need to see our frailty and plant out faith in God for limitless power and strength to face any and all challenges of life. He is the one who makes us strong. Paul expressed His confidence in God to make him strong when he was feeling weak. (2 Corinth. 12:10)

3)     Because God shows His perfect Power:  When human power takes the center stage, God has no room to show His power. It is when man exhausted his power, that’s the time for God to show His. God is never a helper to subsidize man’s frailty so man can do things on his own. God doesn’t need man’s power to help Him accomplish anything either. God alone can and will accomplish anything and everything without the assistance of human power. It is when human resource comes to an end; God will do all to perfection on his own.

4)     Because man has nothing to boast:  Using man’s helpless condition in saving his own soul, God sent Hi son, Jesus, to accomplish salvation for all men without any assistance of man. Paul says in Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works (of man) so that no one can boast.” Men love to boast his own but all have failed as Paul confessed in Romans 7:18-24. Finally he said, “What a wretched man I am! Who can rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus our Lord.

 

TURNING WEAKNESS INTO STRENGTH: (2 Corinth. 12:7-10)

1)    Be aware of conceit: “Conceit” means “self pride” on things that is not yours. Paul realized the purpose God allowed him to be in weakness is “To keep me from becoming conceited because the surpassing great revelation.” He was talking about God’s grace in his experience in the third heaven (12:1-4). No one else in the Bible has similar experience as Paul had. It is easy for man to feel proud or superior because of God’s grace.

2)    Accept God’s assignment: “There was given me a thorn in my fresh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (12:7b)Paul realized that the thorn in his fresh was a messenger of Satan, not of God. But God allowed it to happen, as He did to Job, to torment him, to make him suffer and feeling weak and helpless. Satan always finds ways to make Christians suffer hoping to weaken their faith and commitment. Sometimes God allow this to happen to keep us weak and humble. This is an important training process of spiritual growth and faith.

3)    Seeking power to sustain: Going through painful experience is never easy for anyone. To be in helpless situation is hard for everyone. Paul did what we all will do: asked God to remove the thorn from his fresh. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away.” (12:8)This is not a sign of selfish intend. It is a sign of faith that God can, if He will, help him be relieved from suffering. We also need to seek God’s mercy when our life and days are difficult and painful.

4)    Understand God’s way: “But He said to me: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (12:9)This may be one of the few Bible verses which have been quoted millions of time such as John 3:16. The reasons God did not remove the thorn from the fresh are: His grace is more than enough to sustain us through difficult times. Then His power is made perfect or complete in the weakness of man. We may see God’s power much clearer and better when we are in weakness. This is God’s way to help us understand His grace and power. It may not be the way we like, but it is the way God loves to use most of the time.

5)    Understand the results: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (12:9b)Paul may have to continue to suffer the pain because of the thorn, but he saw in a better way the grace and power of God in his life and therefore, he will boast even more his weaknesses not because he is proud of them but through them he saw God’s mercy and power. What a way to experience God’s grace and power.

6)    Understand the real joy: “That’s why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution and in difficulties.” (12:10)To Paul the source of joy was not easy life without trouble but through all kinds of weaknesses, troubles, pain and suffering because he realized that all these came to Him to magnify Christ’s power and therefore he was happy to go through those hardships and persecution. Real joy is not peace on the outside but peace and strength on the inside. It is not for the good of us but for the good of Christ.

7)    Turning weakness to strength: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:10b)This is secret of spiritual maturity: when we are weak, God makes us strong. When we are willing to admit our weaknesses, God will use them as opportunities to demonstrate His strength. He will make His power complete, perfect and seamless.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    Being weak is not all bad: If you learn to lean on God and His strength, like Paul did, being weak may the best way to be strong. There were so many heroes in history who were the weak but made strong by their God and so can you.

2)    Make the best of weakness: Being weak is not the end of the world but remain weak is. Seek God and His strength and you will turn weakness into strength. Allow God to enter your life and take control of it and you will see the difference.

3)    Never too late to seek God: If you feel your life is helpless or hopeless, don’t just sit there and cry. Turn your life to God who can give you new strength and direction to make your life a blessing for many. Just ask Him into your life and wait.