By: Gary L. Hutchens
The Apostle Paul learned a fundamental lesson through his Christian life experiences: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phlp. 4:11-13).
Basic to that lesson is another that Paul had learned. In response to his repeated prayers for removal of some “thorn in the flesh,” the Lord told him “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:8-9).
The Lord did not remove whatever physical problem Paul had asked to be removed. Instead, He assured Paul that even in the face of physical weakness He could bless and enable Paul to do effective, even mighty work in His name. Paul’s response was admirable. He stated “I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” He took pleasure in serving the Lord in spite of infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions and distresses. (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
We don’t have wear a string of college degrees on our sleeve to serve our Lord effectively. By the power of the Lord, Peter healed a man who had been lame from birth (Acts 3:1-8). Then he and John effectively taught the gospel to a multitude who gathered, and “many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” (Acts 3:11-4:4). After taking them into custody the Jewish leaders “marveled” at the boldness of Peter and John, realizing “that they had been with Jesus,” in spite of the fact that they “perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men.” (Acts 4:5-13).
As already noted from Paul’s experience, we don’t have to be the ultimate example of physical strength and well being to effectively serve the Lord. Paul had that “thorn in the flesh,” but that did not stop him. He learned that, in Christ “when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10). Would anyone doubt the effectiveness of Paul’s work in helping establish congregations in a multitude of countries?
We don’t have to be great orators to serve the Lord effectively. Paul did not teach the Corinthians “with excellence of speech…” He said, “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom…” (1 Cor. 2:1-4). How many hundreds, probably thousands, of souls do you suppose became Christians through Paul’s teaching? Remember that Moses said he could not speak well (Ex. 4:10), but God used him to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and lead them to the promised land.
You don’t have to be financially set, so to speak, to serve the Lord effectively. The “churches of Macedonia,” in spite of “their deep poverty,” served as a powerful example in helping the needy Christians in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:1-3).
Our Lord is not looking for perfect specimens of humanity to serve Him. He’s looking for contrite hearts, for dedicated disciples, for willing servants, no matter the weaknesses. His grace is sufficient to fill in the holes. Are you ready to trust in His grace?…
Gary L. Hutchens