‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength 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.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
God’s kingdom does not operate like any earthly kingdom. It doesn’t play by the rules of the world. We see that clearly in this passage. The 2 Corinthians 12:9 meaning points out that Jesus’ power is perfected in our weakness. Which is not how our world operates.
In our culture, we downplay our weaknesses and focus on our strengths. We place the pressure on our own strength to get by. When God says “My grace is sufficient for you” and “My strength is made perfect in weakness” we tend to struggle to apply it to our lives.
This is a powerful verse that flies in the face of what our culture teaches us. And I think there are some powerful lessons in the meaning of 2 Corinthians 12:9 that we need to hear today. It might be tough to hear, but it’s needed.
Table of Contents
The Context Of 2 Corinthians 12:9
2 Corinthians is a letter that was written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. This church had some problems. Really, not too different than the Western church. One of the issues was their reliance on and longing for earthly things. They even boasted about what they had.
In contrast, Paul starts off 2 Corinthians 12 boasting not in what he had, but rather in who God is. Not only does he boast in God, but he highlights his own weakness. Something the Corinthian people would never do.
Paul famously says in 2 Corinthians 12:7 that he has a “thorn in his flesh.” He’s pointing to his weakness to prove his point. God’s grace is sufficient, his power is enough. God can, and will, overcome our weaknesses.
That’s what leads Paul to say of God, “my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s point is that we are all weak. But God is strong.
The church in Corinth thought they had it all together and boasted in what they had. Paul is showing them the foolishness of that sentiment. Rather than boasting about their supposed strengths they should boast about their weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 Meaning
Now that we know the context, let’s look at what lead Paul to write, “my grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness.” There’s a powerful truth for us today found in the meaning of 2 Corinthians 12:9.
We are going to break this verse down section by section. But first let’s look at 2 Corinthians 12:9 and the surrounding verses.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my strength 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.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthian 12:8-10
But He Said To Me…
Remember the context. Paul has a “thorn in his flesh.” We aren’t sure what that is exactly, but it’s clearly something Paul struggled with. It could be a physical affliction, a temptation, or an external issue. I believe Paul intentionally doesn’t tell us so that we can place whatever our thorn is.
It’s important here to remember the context because Paul is contrasting the thorn, his weakness, to what he’s going to say next.
Paul has asked God to remove the thorn, but what is uncomfortable to Paul is being used by God for his benefit. Paul attributes the thorn to Satan, not God. Satan is the one causing the pain, God is allowing it. However the pain is not in vain, God is turning his weakness into something good.
In his weakness Paul learns a powerful lesson that I think we need today. He continues on.
My Grace Is Sufficient For You Meaning…
Paul has learned a valuable lesson. If you have nothing in this life but Jesus you have enough.
The reality is we all have a “thorn in our flesh,” a weakness. And that draws our focus. We tend to focus on all the needs we have in our life.
We are focused on the wrong thing. Instead we should shift from our thorn to God’s grace. He is enough for us. I believe God looks at us today and says, “My grace is sufficient for YOU.” You need nothing else but Jesus.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything
My Strength Is Made Perfect In Weakness Meaning…
When we shift our focus from our “thorn,” our weakness, to God the result is our weakness becomes a strength. We should note that Paul is not saying HIS strength. But rather GOD’S strength.
Our weakness cannot compare to the overwhelming power that Christ has. Where we are weak God is strong. His strength is made perfect when we look to him rather than trying to accomplish it on our own.
Therefore I will Boast All The More Gladly About My Weaknesses Meaning
Whenever you see a “therefore” in the Bible you need to ask what it’s there for. In this case Paul is concluding his argument. Because of God’s grace and strength Paul will now boast in his weakness.
Boasting in one’s weakness is the opposite of what the world tells us to do. We flaunt our successes. We only post the best photos on social media. We know how to put on a good face. But Paul teaches us a different way. To boast in our weakness, to not hide our faults. Why? Because it’s a testament of God’s strength.
Paul is walking not by his strength, but God’s. This is what the Christian life is about. Our weakness can bring God glory when we bring it to him rather than keeping it hidden. Weakness brings the opportunity for divine power.
How To Apply 1 Corinthians 12:9 To Your Life
Many Christians have bought into the lie of self-sufficiency that culture sells us. We tell ourselves that we are enough, that we can overcome our weaknesses, and that we have it within us.
The Bible teaches us a different way. We are not enough. On our own we are helpless. But we are not hopeless. God has done for us what we are incapable of doing for ourselves.
We don’t need to pretend to have it all together. We don’t need to hide our weaknesses. God’s Kingdom is upside down. The world highlights strength, the Bible highlights weakness. Why? Because in our weakness God’s power is perfected.
Dr Tom Constable says it this way: “This is one of the most important lessons every ambassador of Jesus Christ must learn. Both natural weakness and supernatural power are constantly at work in us, as they were in Paul and in Jesus. The Cross is the greatest example of divine power working through human weakness. The greater we sense our weakness, the more we will sense God’s power (cf. Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:13).”
We think our thorns decrease our usefulness for God and lessen the joy we can find in this life. But the opposite is true. When we rely on God for our strength we can find joy in our troubles and weakness because God will use them to bring his goodness into our life.
The way to the good life that Jesus promised is found when we admit our weakness and rely fully on God.
Now check out this blog post: What Is God’s Grace (7 powerful truths you need to know)
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