As I reflect on last weeks study that Jesus is the grace of God, and adding in our study of 1 Peter, it is revealed to us the awesomeness of God, but also the suffering in a lost world. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, something that we don’t deserve. It also includes the God-given desire and power to do His will. We will continue to explore those areas, and today we will look at the function of grace.
God gives grace to the humble and not the proud. So what does it mean to be humble? Or to say it another way, what does it mean to be prideful? (and thus not given grace) A good place to start is to ask if you are spending time in God’s word and with him in prayer? Pride will pull you away from both. But we must also remove any thoughts that only in non-suffering or in comfort are we living in grace. Even more, if we see the great things of God, we might become prideful that we are somehow better or have more grace than others. Sometimes in those moments God will use suffering or irritation to bring us back to humility.
Here it might be that Paul didn’t know the purpose of the thorn bothering him. It might have only been through prayer that revelation would show him that God might be involved. But it is to let us know in spite of suffering, God is still at work.
Paul prayed for the Lord to remove the thorn. But God revealed that he is powerful enough even in weakness. So Paul announces that if he were to boast, he won’t boast in himself (pride), but to boast in the power in the Lord through his weaknesses. When it speaks of “Christ’s power” is rested on Paul, it has two part meaning. First is is Jesus’ power will fall upon us and in us. But the second is to embrace that coming.
But to embrace Jesus’ power can be hard. It requires us to take a hard look at our weaknesses. And that can make us very uncomfortable. But Paul reminds us that we are not to be afraid of weakness, but to delight in our weaknesses. That our suffering, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties are only to bring us to embrace Jesus’ power. Because when we are weak, we are then strong in Jesus.
This leads us to another letter of Paul’s. In the opening chapters of Romans, Paul sets forth the history of God’s want to be in right relationship with his people. But it requires his people to join this relationship through faith. It is then through that faith that opens the door to give us access to the grace of God. And through our own weakness, we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Our sin and weakness is in opposition of God. We could never bring ourselves before God on our own. But his grace is enough. God is always faithful. God gives grace to the humble, but he will resist you if you are proud. The dangers of the proud are always around us… our phone, computer, television… But if we accept that God’s grace is sufficient, we will stop worrying about the weakness, but accept that Jesus will shine through that weakness.
7 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. (ESV)
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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. (ESV)
10 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. (ESV)
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)