Day 5 Read: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Reflect: How do you see Paul’s poverty of spirit in these verses? What caused him to be poor in spirit?
Consider: Validation as God’s minister does not come from one’s own self-endorsement or from otherworldly experiences. The problem is that the Corinthians do not understand him fully (1:14), and what they have seen of him they have misread (10:1, 10; 11:21). He needs to bring them to understand that the life and power of God (13:4) pulse beneath his mask of death, weakness, and humiliation (4:7–12). What is important are not the transcendent moments when he has become spiritually airborne, but his obedience in the daily chore of preaching the gospel faithfully despite “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties” (12:10).5
Respond: Have you ever felt like Paul did? That you prayed and asked God to change something, but He did not? How did you experience his grace during that season? Why, then, do you think being poor in spirit helps us to see God more clearly?
5 David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians, vol. 29, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 518.