While reading my Bible and Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us by Preston Sprinkle, I was thinking, and actually became overwhelmed. I am distraught and dismayed because I am becoming more and more aware of how sinful I really am. Seriously. I am SO selfish. I don’t naturally think of others first. I think about what I have to do. I think about my agenda first.
I am depraved. My mind wanders. I have trouble “setting my heart on things above”, as Colossians 3:1 says I should. My heart constantly wanders off course, settling on earthly, temporary things.
I find this somewhat astounding because I purposely try to surround myself with the things of God. I wake up each day and think about God. I ponder and study His Word. I memorize Scripture from time to time. I journal occasionally. I listen to Christian music (for the most part). And, of course, I faithfully go to church.
My little Christian checklist doesn’t seem to work.
I even work for a Christian non-profit organization and am surrounded by wonderful, godly people, also passionate for the things of God. We, along with the Body of Christ, serve the needy and as needs are met, God transforms lives. I witness that first-hand.
And yet, here I am, amazed at my depravity.
This is not false humility. I genuinely echo Isaiah in the temple of God, “Woe to me! For I am a man of unclean lips!” (See Isaiah 6:5) And like the apostle Paul, I cry out:
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:24)
If I had to venture a guess, I’d say you’re not much different.
Thankfully, this question doesn’t have to hang in the air hopelessly, because Paul answers it immediately:
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (v.25a)
Do you hear the relief in those words? Do you see the exclamation point at the end of the sentence!?! It’s also Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 12 that give me more hope when he, with the Lord’s help, gets a revelation (the lightbulb comes on) about his “thorn in the flesh”.
Many scholars have spent considerable time theorizing on Paul’s thorn and what it might have been. Some have even supposed that it was his poor eyesight or that he was somewhat meek in stature. Somehow, I don’t think that was his “thorn.” Paul was possibly the most mature Christ-follower this planet has ever seen, so I don’t think he would have referred to a God-given malady, like poor eyesight, as “a messenger of Satan.” (2 Cor 12:7)
Although we’ll never know this side of heaven, I believe Paul’s struggle was more of his “inner life.” He, like all of us, struggled. He was faced with his sinfulness, but most of all, with his weakness. But because he knew he couldn’t handle “it” alone — whatever “it” was — he knew it was an opportunity for Jesus to shine and show Himself.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9b)
For me, that gives me hope.
It’s not about who I am nor what I am becoming.
It’s about who Jesus is and who (or what) He became for me and you.
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)