“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” 2 Corinthians 12:7
The Apostle Paul was just like you and me, you see. He was tempted to boast of the many revelations that the Lord had given to him. I believe that given half a chance, Paul would have struck up a band. The interesting thing is that it is not Paul who saw the danger, but God Himself! Probably Paul thought he was a humble servant of God (like we all do), but God knew otherwise. He therefore arranged to have a full barrage of pride-stopping armor stacked against Paul – just to make sure the man stuck to the job description given to him.
Considering that Paul was not a robot, the fact that he willingly accepted to be put under the crusher says something about his character.
Not many of us want that, you know. To be honest, even I have a problem when push comes to shove in matters touching on the flesh. But again, it is not like Paul wanted what God put him through. But he was willing. He was willing to let God have His way in his life. That made all the difference. In the end he says, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” verse 9
There is a price to pay if we want to have the life of Christ in us. We cannot serve God on our own terms. He alone is God, and He dictates the terms, praise His holy Name. (Someone said that if God told us to climb a mountain in order to be accounted righteous, then all believers would have to climb mountains, from the 10-year old boy to the 80-year old granny!)
God knows the hidden pride, arrogance, lusts, the raw evil and every other sin dwelling within us. (Despite the fact that we are saved, and probably we are even pastors, prophets, etc., unfortunately we have all these enemies of the soul ranged against us.) God therefore brings situations in our lives specifically designed to deal with that sin. Most of the time it doesn’t appear like a sin, so we wonder why God is being so hard on us. But He saw exactly what would become of Paul – or, rather, what Paul would become – without a deterrent, so He intervened.
The Bible says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” – Jeremiah 17:9,10
Let us allow God to put His hand upon our lives – not in “blessing” us (which we would so much more prefer), but in working us the way a potter works clay, so that His grace may rest upon our lives, and that we may impart that grace to a needy world.
The fruits of Paul’s labors according to God’s will are evident to this day. What can be said of our lives?