According to this verse does God want us to boast of our wisdom? In our power? Or in our wealth? No!!! The word of God teaches us through our older brother Paul, what to boast about: “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong“ (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
Indeed, the might of God was upon him and God used him tremendously thanks to the humility and modesty that were in him and of course his confidence in God!
After Paul describes the great suffering he went through in his life with: the beatings, hardships, torments, dangers, afflictions, hunger and thirst, and his concern for all the congregations (2 Cor. 11:23-29), he declares: “If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity” (Verse 30).
Paul teaches us, through the epistle to the Romans that there is a purpose to troubles: “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:3-5). The role of the troubles, which the Lord allows to come upon us, is – to create in us patience (strength to suffer), endurance (determination and perseverance in faith) and hope (expectation of a good future), and all this only with the help of our confidence in God’s love for us and by His grace.
Paul went through a hard and exhausting process, until the time God began to use him as a tool for His kingdom. In the midst of all the troubles, distresses, diseases, pains and persecutions that Paul went through, he remained faithful and close to the Lord. He knew there was a reason for his sufferings. Suffering led him to meekness and humiliation before God and this led him to his call to be an apostle. He knew and declared that it was only by the grace of God: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).
The Lord uses weak vessels – in those who understand that they cannot do a spiritual role, but only with the help of God’s grace (John 15:5). In those who depend only on Him and not on themselves, neither on their power nor on their wisdom (Colossians 1:29). And in those who give Him all the honor and do not take it for themselves (1 Peter 5:10-11).
Paul himself was honest and true, when he revealed his weakness, when he fought against his fleshly deeds: “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:21-25).
The decision is also up to us: Do we want to fight against the deeds of our flesh or surrender to them? Do we want to live with pride or humility? Do we want to let the Holy Spirit lead us: to forgiveness, repentance and brotherly love, or to remain in our rebellion and suffer the consequences?
It is true that we are in a spiritual warfare, but only with our humility and humiliation can we bravely resist the enemy’s attack on us: “Therefore humble yourselves… casting all your care upon Him… Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion… Resist him, steadfast in the faith… But may the God of all grace… after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:6-10). The process begins with our humiliation, continues with our strong faith and ends with the victory and might of the Lord Yeshua. Only when we live humbly can we hold on to His victory for us. Only thanks to Him, we are more than conquerors, because Yeshua’s victory over Satan, has already been completed on the cross. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In Peter’s first epistle in chapter four, he describes the suffering of the believers and the purpose of this suffering (the purification). It was as to God’s plan: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (Verses 2-13). The purification we go through is for our goodness. If we are tormented because we are acting in light and in truth in our fight against the deeds of darkness, we will rejoice in the difficulties, because in doing so we take part in the torture of Messiah, because He too fought against the deeds of darkness in the world and suffered opposition and rejection from people. We too will suffer opposition and rejection, because He commanded us to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth and it is not easy to go against the flow.
“But let none of you suffer as a murderer (Also character assassination of a brother), a thief (Takes something that is not his), an evildoer (Behaving maliciously towards brothers), or as a busybody in other people’s matters (Interferes in matters that do not belong to him personally)” (Verse 15). It is suffering that comes as a result of sins. Confession and repentance in such cases brings him back into proper relationship with the Lord and with the brethren.
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (Verse 16). He who is tortured as a true believer, who walks in light and truth, should thank God, because God gives him a reward.
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? (Verses 17-18). According to the word of God, the time of judgment has already begun, from the house of God, that is, from us believers. We have been in this process since we came to faith. God examines all of our deeds and knows our ways and thoughts and according to this we will receive the reward on the Day of Judgment (Revelation 22:12).
The conclusion of this whole passage: “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (Verse 19). That is: despite the difficulties and opposition against us, we must continue to trust the Lord and be a good witness to His glory, before the lost ones and also before the saved ones, until the day He will come to take us to Him.
Meanwhile our lives are continues with struggles. A mature believer is not a perfect believer, but rather a believer who has struggled and fought with determination and perseverance against his flesh and against the temptations of the world, which Satan casts upon him. We must understand that we – the children of God – are the target of Satan! He wants to fail as many believers as possible and his “tool” is: Pride! We all know that Satan fell into the sin of pride when he wanted to take the place of God and was severely punished. So today his war is against us, the believers (God’s ambassadors over the earth), as he tries to make us fail in pride and in doing so, he wants to fail us and accuse us before the Lord.
When we live in humility and self-humiliation and according to the word of God, the enemy cannot fail us. Yeshua set the example for us when He bravely withstood Satan’s attack in the wilderness. He came to teach us His character: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). In these words, Yeshua assures us that when we will learn from Him and will follow Him, we will have inner peace, within the spiritual warfare in which we are today.
Paul taught the young Timothy and also teaches us today, as our older brother, to fight the good fight of faith for the rest of our lives, when the goal is – eternal life in Messiah (Phil. 3:13-14).
“This charge I commit to you… you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1 Tim. 1:18-19). “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…” (1 Tim. 6:12).
We can learn from Paul, that he himself fought the good fight of faith within all the troubles he went through, but knew that there is a reward for his steadfast standing in the grace of God and this he teaches us. He knew that at the last race of his life, he would receive the crown of righteousness that the Lord had prepared for him and not only for him, but also for all those who are waiting for His coming, keeping His commandments and obeying His word.
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:7-9). He will judge our deeds and according to them reward us.
Through the trials and tests we go through, the Lord wants to help us, build in our lives: courage, patience, determination and perseverance in faith. It will also help us stand up by His might, in the trials that will come upon us in the future. God’s word encourages us: “…I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5-6). The Lord is with us in troubles, He wants us to trust in Him, in His might and wisdom.
Paul trusted in the Lord with all his heart, he let the Lord act in his life, change him and shape him according to His will. He is a wonderful practical and spiritual example for us. Through the testimony of his life, we learn to be alert to our spiritual condition and use God’s weapons in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6: 13-17) and can build our Messianic character (Galatians 2:20), by the grace of God.
Paul declared at the end of his days, an amazing declaration and also this is a testimony for us: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
Glory to God!