What Does “My Grace is Sufficient (for You) Mean? What is grace and what does it mean?
Introduction and Context:
Note: The Apostle Paul is the speaker in the quoted verses.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me, lest I be exalted above measure (2 Corinthians 12:7).”
In this chapter of 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul continued defending his apostleship against his challengers. They bragged that they ranked higher than Paul, and one claim was they’d received visions from God. As meekly as possible, Paul told them he could boast about visions too. In either a dream or in reality, God took Paul to heaven, where he heard unspeakable things. None of the challengers had an experience beyond his–even ones they made up!
In fact, God had given Paul an abundance of revelations–so many that God gave Paul a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. God allowed Satan to give Paul a frailty or illness that weakened him enough that Paul had to remain dependent on God–so he wouldn’t be boastful.
“I asked the Lord three times that this thing might depart from me (2 Corinthians 12:8).”
Paul asked God three times to remove his thorn. When he first prayed, he may not have known why he had this weakness.
We all have weaknesses, and we often pray for ourselves and others the God would heal them. And sometimes, God answers our prayer and heals our thorns. But other times, He does not. And that’s for our own good, though we might not know its reason.
The Bible book of James tells us we should ask for wisdom when we face trials in our faith (James 1:2-8). The knowledge He gives will help us understand our problems or how to endure them. God promises that all things will work out for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
What is Grace and What Does it Mean?
“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9.”
Just because we have faith that God can heal; doesn’t mean He will heal. Some teach that we have a weakness or illness because we don’t have enough faith. But God didn’t heal Paul, and he had faith. He was God’s chosen Apostle to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.
Our trials come for many reasons, and most of them aren’t because of a lack of faith. Some come from our thoughts or actions, but many come from other people, from Satan, or because we live in a troubled world.
God’s M.O. (method of operation) uses the weak or the least likely to accomplish His will.
- He chose a “wandering Aramean” to bring blessing to the entire world: Abraham (Deuteronomy 26:5).
- He chose women with issues as part of Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1:1-16):
- Tamar, who tricked the father of her child (Genesis 38),
- Rahab, a harlot who lived in Jericho (Hebrews 11:31),
- Ruth, a Moabitess (Ruth 1) and
- Bathsheba who committed adultery with King David (2 Samuel 11).
- He chose God the Son, the Sovereign Creator of the universe, to be born in a stable: Jesus. Then in the wisdom of God, Jesus died on a cursed cross to provide salvation for the world.
- He chose a person who murdered Christians to convert to Christianity and be the Apostle to the Gentiles: Paul.
“So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).”
The blind are the first to “see” that Jesus is the Messiah. When the early church was persecuted, it grew faster. God chose the “foolish” to know spiritual truth before the wise. Few of the rich obtain salvation, but the poor and downtrodden respond to God’s invitation. God’s chosen people rejected Jesus as their Messiah, so God turned His attention to the Gentiles, who were not His people, and many responded.
God’s grace shines through when He uses human weaknesses. It gives Him the proper glory. Having weaknesses keeps us humble, and God responds to modesty. While God rejects those who are self-sufficient or who feel superior.