Tuesday, June 28, 2016
If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:6-10(NLT)
Have you ever just blurted something out, and regretted it before the words finished falling out of your mouth? I have. It’s one of those things that just happen; it is obviously not planned.
I recall one such time I greeted a man who was a church member with what I thought would be a lighthearted and funny tease; it turned out I was wrong; big time wrong! The man was grouchy, didn’t want to be there, and only came because his wife insisted, and in no mood for a preacher’s stupid teasing.
I should have realized something was wrong; he was scowling like a bulldog with a stomach issue. But…out it came…open mouth – insert foot!
I, along with millions of other believers, do not know exactly what Paul’s “thorn” was; it’s almost unimportant. But we know the reason God allowed Paul to suffer with it; that thorn was Paul’s humiliation, and it helped him stay in God’s will.
Paul learned to embrace that thorn, because he was a hard-driving, self-motivated, type-A mover and shaker, so he had a tendency to be full of himself because of his accomplishments. And the one thing Paul eventually realized was that thorn kept him from the kind of pride which could have undone every good thing he did in God’s name.
I don’t know what your thorn is, but I understand mine, and have begun to embrace it, because, like Paul, deep down I want nothing more than to follow God’s leading and stay in his perfect will.
If it takes a thorn, Lord, let me live in a rosebush, please!
Today let me leave you with a stanza from a hymn entitled David’s Harp written by a 17th century clergyman, Paulus Gerhardt. John Wesley thought so much of the hymn’s meaning he translated the German for his English-speaking Methodists.
O knit my thankful heart to thee,
And reign without a rival there:
Thine wholly, thine alone, I am;
Be thou alone my constant flame.
For us, today this hymn speaks of thorns to embrace and use as a weapon to drive out of our hearts every competitor for God’s love.
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 David's Harp, Paulus Gerhardt (1607-1676) translated by John Wesley (1703-1791)