Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me… Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
It’s not important to know what “thorn” tormented Paul. What’s important to know is that Jesus tells Paul that His grace will be sufficient for Paul to deal with it.
The “thorn” gave Paul two gifts. First, it kept him from “being too elated,” which means too puffed-up or too full of himself. Second, it helped Paul to know how much he needed grace. Despite his setbacks, shipwrecks, and afflictions, Paul knew that the grace of Jesus was all he needed.
Jesus said to Paul that His grace was sufficient in Paul’s weakness—that’s how grace works. We need to be weak to know the strength of grace. Need to be lost to know the grace of being found. Need to be broken to know the grace of being mended. Need to experience despair for our sin to know the grace of being forgiven. Grace wouldn’t be sufficient if we didn’t know our deficit. We don’t need the sufficiency of grace when we think we can rely upon our own self-sufficiency.
Grace is Jesus’ best gift. Grace, however, can be a hard gift to receive. Although grace saves us, it can also offend us because it shatters our pride. We would like to earn grace, but we can’t. We like to be rewarded, but there’s no reward with Jesus. Just grace.
Although Jesus offers His grace for free, accepting it costs surrendering our wills and pride. Accepting grace is terribly humbling—it’s no longer about us. Grace is also terrifically liberating—it’s no longer about us.
If you accept the grace of Jesus, your life will change. When Paul came to trust that the grace of Jesus was sufficient for him, he went off to share that grace with the whole world.
I encourage you to trust that the grace of Jesus is also sufficient for you. If you do, what will you do with the greatest of all gifts?
- Do you accept the grace of Jesus as a gift, or are you still trying to earn it?
- If indeed you have accepted that the grace of Jesus is sufficient for you and all of your needs, how do you plan to share that gift with others?
- This is how grace is supposed to work: From Jesus to us and then from us to others. Would others call you a grace-filled, a grace-abundant, a grace-extending person? If so, how come? If not, what are you going to do to change their opinion?