Bible Society of South Africa
Louise Gevers

Walking with God – Day 21

Walking with God – transformed: Paul

Bible text(s)

7But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan's messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. 8Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. 9But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ's power over me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9GNBOpen in Bible reader

Nobody is righteous; nobody is perfect, no matter how hard we try. We are frail and we fail because we share the human condition that exists because of sin; even simple things are hard to do in our own strength. We need God’s grace; we need his power in our lives. Perhaps, we were surprised to read that the great Elijah “was a man like us” (James 5:17), but through this, James shows that each person has the potential for God to do amazing things, because he works through ordinary people.

Jesus told his disciples that they would do greater things than he did! As followers of Christ, we sometimes feel dejected because of our weak witness, but even Elijah had times of depression, despite God working so powerfully through him. God may not necessarily wish to raise someone from the dead or start a drought, but through obedient hearts, he will do what suits each time and circumstance.

The apostle Paul is a prime example of this. On his way to Damascus, Saul, the former Pharisee, was transformed by his meeting with Jesus (Acts 9:3). Paul had worked zealously for God before and after his conversion, but true significance came to his life after he met Jesus. By God’s grace, Christianity spread dramatically through the man whose plan it had been to destroy it!

Before, Paul was essentially a misguided murderer, but afterwards an inspired herald, bringing to the world God’s matchless gift of forgiveness and eternal life, through Jesus Christ. Paul worked tirelessly to spread the gospel, often suffering deeply, but his motto remained, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Today’s text shows that Paul still had a problem that he could not overcome, despite prayer. Do we identify with this in our own lives?

God helped Paul to see that this “thorn in the flesh” was what kept his feet on the ground and would keep him from becoming proud; it helped him to rely fully on God, instead of his own strength.

God’s grace is sufficient for us too, whatever our “thorn”. Through his great design, we can know peace in life and can rejoice in weakness in all circumstances. We need to share this good news so that all may know his grace (Matthew 28:19-20).

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