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)
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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (NIV)
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. (NLT)
A Thorn in Flesh
I think it’s of vital importance for you to open your bible and start this devotional by simply reading Paul’s words to the Corinthians at the beginning of chapter 12.
Read Corinthians 12:6-10
Ignoring achievements and boasting of weakness.
Paul briefly mentions what he could take pride in, only to emphasize that he chooses not to, as it ultimately serves no purpose. While it may not be foolish or sinful for him to share these things, he finds it of utmost importance to boast only about his weaknesses which point to the grace of Christ. In this, he strives for humility.
“We should hide our righteousness and reveal our sin.” I can’t remember who I first heard this from, but it has stuck with me.” It implies that our most powerful testimony for the Christian lies not in one's good deeds, but in Christ's ability to save and forgive us from our wickedness. Boasting in our weaknesses becomes a driving force to proclaim the Gospel in the face of evil. This is the grace of God—even to use evil to fight evil itself, ultimately turning it for good. Christ faithfully employs the testimony of our weakness to drive out the darkness in the world.
Paul has many reasons to boast, yet he intentionally chooses to boast only of his weakness. He understands that the power of Christ resides within his vulnerabilities.
While my natural inclination may be to share my achievements and successes with others, I find myself in agreement with Paul's message here. I have discovered that if I spend extended periods of time, sharing the good things I have done, proving my faithfulness, and boasting about my triumphs, I begin to feel depleted and empty. In doing this, I begin to establish an impossible standard for myself and become burdened by the weight of my expectations. What initially made me feel strong and wise in the initial moment of sharing, will have quickly transformed into a trap of shame. On the other hand, when I sit across the table, sipping coffee, every Tuesday morning, confessing my sins and celebrating God's grace and faithfulness with my friends, what I discover is far greater than any momentary glory, it is, lasting strength. The spirit fills us when we pour out and acknowledge our weaknesses, rejoicing in Christ's grace in our life.
Our true calling to humility goes beyond a mere disregarding of one's achievements… It extends further—it involves boasting about our weaknesses.
Celebration and Confession
Boasting in weakness should not be mistaken for celebrating sin or dwelling in self-deprecation. Instead, it encompasses both confession and celebration. Confessing our sins while rejoicing in Christ’s forgiveness, is the life-giving recipe of boasting in weakness.
Lately, I have challenged myself to leave every lengthy conversation, both having confessed and celebrated. This is not always an exhaustive exercise. Sometimes it can be as simple as saying, "I have been overwhelmed by the busyness of life, but God has given me strength to find healthy rhythms," or "I have experienced loneliness recently, but I find hope in knowing Christ is by my side," or "I have been consumed with worries about the uncertainties of the future, but I am placing my trust in the path God has laid before me."
This is what boasting in weakness looks like.
However, amidst all of this, there is a dangerous pitfall that I feel compelled to caution you about. Boasting in your weakness has the potential to become as self-centered, as all boasting can. It contradicts the essence of Corinthians 12. Regretfully, I must admit that it's a mistake I have made myself, even quite recently, I might add. That, even when acknowledging our weaknesses, it is tempting to still seek attention for ourselves.
Our focus should be on pointing to Christ in everything we do. The purpose of boasting in weakness is to completely forget oneself (that is who we are apart from Christ) and direct attention solely to Christ and His power over our lives. On the other hand, indulging in self-depreciation can lead to a form of "spiritual pride," where pride disguises itself as humility. Genuine boasting in weakness leads to Gospel humility, which is a self-forgetfulness that leads to exalting the cross of Christ and claiming only one thing: Our citizenship of heaven as Children of the King.
So here lies your challenge this week...
Boast in your weakness. In other words, confess and celebrate, rejecting the idolization of oneself, and recognizing God as the utmost importance.