There are a lot of preachers who are professional orators; who are preaching religion for the purpose of selling religion for the sake of self-gain and the collection plate. (These are my thoughts, not Dr. Caesar’s) One of the methods used to sell religion is through the theory that God is obligated to serve each person by fulfilling his desires. In essence, you were put here on earth so that God could serve you. The driving force of this thought process goes like this: Whatever your desires are, if you have enough faith, God will fulfill your desires because He is obligated to do so. Basically, they are saying that God is an instrument in their hands and if they have enough faith and if they believe in their own desires, God must do what they are ordering Him to do through a belief system and a faith system. What a delusion and illusion of the real truth. Read 2 Corinthians 11 and 12. Starting in chapter 11:16, Paul goes through the scenario of his life. He records all the times he was beaten to near death. He was stoned and he was whipped with a cat of nine tails forty-nine times. He was shipwrecked three times. His life story is one of a lot of cruel punishment. His punishment was for taking his stand to believe and defend Jesus Christ.
Everything that Jesus preached about was to serve others and to be selfless. The world wants to be served. It does not want to serve. Therefore, they reject the true message of Jesus. Jesus set the standard and the example for our walk with Him. His example was to give and forgive as pointed out several times in my book ‘Something to Consider’. Paul came to know the real persona and the real passion of Jesus and that was to serve by giving and forgiving. Paul went on to deliver that passionate message of and about Jesus even though it was at the expense of his own body.
Notice in these verses, Paul was referring to boasting. In the verses prior to these verses, Paul was going through a dissertation on 'what is worth boasting about and what is not worth boasting about.' He is pointing out the difference between a self-serving boasting and a God-serving boasting. He culminates this subject of boasting. Look at the verses in 2 Corinthians 12 starting with verse 7. Notice after reading these verses, Paul talks of three times he pleaded with the Lord to take away from him the thorn in his flesh. But Paul came to realize the thorn was actually put there by God, Himself, to keep him humbled. After Paul realized that God placed the thorn in his flesh, this thorn in his flesh was really a blessing. He rejoiced in the thorn and he boasted in the thorn. He realized that the thorn kept him weak and God can only use people in their weakness rather than in their strength. Paul rejoiced with the thorn. He rejoiced because he knew that if he understood the purpose of the thorn and with that purpose comes the afflictions of the thorn and the agony, pain, and adversity that comes with the thorn, then this thorn would have great value in the eyes of the Lord. Paul knew that life is not perfect. Paul knew what this world has to offer can be cruel and full of hardships and pain. But, if you use those thorns to glorify the Lord, the thorns will have value in God’s eternal plan.
There seems to be so many people over obsessed about whether they feel good or feel bad. Unfortunately, that is true of most Christians. Their perspective is short term. Their life efforts are committed to self. They use all this world has to offer to gratify self. Many of them are deceived in believing that God blesses people for their own vain comforts. They want to believe that the more faith they have the more God blesses them. There is absolutely nothing further from the truth than that. God does not give things to us to glorify our flesh. If He gives us anything at all, it is to make us a living example of His Grace. It is my observation that most people with a lot of possessions and wealth become self absorbed and self proclaimed prophets of their worthiness before God. Analyze what Paul has said in these verses, 'let us not boast in our strength, but boast only in our weakness.' God does not use man in his strength, lest he boast about his strength. God only uses man in his weakness.
There is a great lesson to be learned from the example of Paul’s life and from what Paul has observed about his Christian walk. It is interesting to note that Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians in the latter part of his ministry when he had an opportunity to experience all that could happen to him and he had gone through a high level of maturity and fully understood the heart and the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ. This letter is a passion letter from God to His people, using Paul as the example.
Dr. Moses Caesar pointed out that Paul had discovered the secret of the Lord’s perspective of all things. The Lord’s perspective is from an eternal point of view and we too often look at everything from a temporary point of view. Our sufferings are only temporary and if we serve the Lord through those sufferings, then the pain is only a temporary pain. Our mission here on earth is to endure the small pains, the small disappointments in life from the perspective that all these go together to serve an eternal purpose. We should be glad and honored to be part of God’s eternal purpose, especially if it involves pain and suffering. The bigger question is NOT 'why do I have these thorns?', but the big question is 'why have You (God) trusted me with these thorns to glorify you?'
Author: David Leatherman
May God bless and enrich your life
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