Understanding Grace Part Three
by Curt Klingeman
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2Corinthians 12:9 And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (KJV).
Grace does not invite us to live in failure or weakness, but to live in the strength of the Lord. Grace is not some coping tool whereby we white-knuckle our way through life, it empowers us to endure hardship and enjoy the victory that God gives us in the process. Its design was never to excuse away our failings or to be used as some sort of explanation as to why some people do not get healed, which is a different subject matter of itself. Grace is not some crutch to hobble through life with; it is filled with power. Anytime we have need of something greater than our selves, whether it is ability or supply, grace provides. Since grace comes from God, He is the One Who determines how it is to function in our lives. Therefore, grace invites us to humble ourselves before Him, as it is written, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6, KJV).
In 2Corinthians 12 we discover that Paul was given a thorn in his flesh which he sought the Lord to take it away from him three times. Instead of removing the thorn or providing a means of escape, the Lord empowered Paul to endure. So often, people spend time trying to figure out what the thorn in Paul’s flesh was, which is not the point of the passage. In fact, if you focus on the thorn, you will miss the message of grace. If you try to define the thorn, you miss the victory. “Thorn” has different applications in the Bible; however, this is not an attempt to explain the thorn. However, Paul does give us a clue in verse10, which also helps us understand grace: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (KJV). How often have we asked the Lord to remove a difficult situation or provide some means of escape, but He did not? Often what He does is walk through the circumstances with us, while giving us, the grace we need to endure. If we recall, Jesus also sought the Father three times concerning the Cross, and in all three instances Jesus said, “Thy will be done.” It was necessary for us that Jesus endured what He did; otherwise, we would still be lost in our sins. Often what we endure is for the sake of others who are watching us. Sometimes those things we endure are for the crucifixion of our old nature. Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (KJV). If Jesus did not decide what method of death He would endure for us, what makes us think we should do any different in relation to our own crucifixion?
Some use this 2Corinthians 12 as some sort of doctrine to continue in weakness. Again, they miss the point. Nowhere in this passage does the Lord say, “Paul, you are going to have to live with this thorn for the rest of your life.” Nevertheless, if he did live with it, it served a higher purpose. God’s purpose includes our victory in life as well. Grace supplies strength in our weakness; it does not bring us to a stalemate, but it brings us to a win. It turns failure into triumph. Without conflict, there is no conquest. Conflicts take up different shapes and sizes. Grace fits the need of each one, regardless of the form they take on. With conflict comes experience, and God uses experience in a variety of ways. It may be to allow patience to work in us so we come to maturity (see Romans 5:1-6; James 1:2-5), conform us to the image of Jesus, or help us discover how much God really does love us, to name a few. Regardless of the purpose, grace is there to bring us through with flying colors. That is why we, “Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (KJV). Whatever type of help we need from grace, that is what we are going to get. It may be patience with people, longsuffering in difficult situations, or power to extend mercy which includes healing. It can remove obstacles or cause us to go through them. The list of needs may be endless, but His grace is eternal. Grace does not leave us in our current condition; it raises us above. It gives us a new position in Christ Jesus.
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