2 Corinthians 12:8-9
For this thing I sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.…
I. IT IS CHRIST WHO SAYS THESE WORDS. It is the "strength," therefore, of a man — of One who knows weakness, and has been through weakness. This at once gives a reality to the promise, and makes it practical. Jesus, who had "strength" given to Him, says it. There is the same propriety and adaptation as when He says, "My peace" — the peace you see Me have — the peace I carry — "I give unto you." Then think of what "strength" Jesus had upon this earth to resist sin — to labour in those mighty works — to endure the reproaches, the unkindnesses, the treachery, the Cross, and then read these words.
II. WHAT IS IT TO "MAKE PERFECT"?
1. It means, "My strength finds its occasion and opportunity to work itself out, to consummate itself in weakness." Man's impotence invites and gives scope for the opportunity to display God's omnipotence. So God is strong for us just in proportion as we are helpless. He cannot and will not act where there is self-sufficiency. The ground is pre-occupied. You have only to be "weak" enough, to put out self enough, and give God range enough, then, if you will only believe it, as necessarily as nature always fills up her vacuums, God will come in to supply all your lack, and "His strength will be made perfect in your weakness."
2. All history and all experience bear their testimony to this truth. The "weak" ones have done all the work, and "the lame take the prey." What arm slew the greatest giant on record? A stripling's. Who changed the moral character of the whole world, and established a system which has outlived and outgrown all the empires of earth? A few ordinary unlettered fishermen. Or, say, when have you done your best works? In what frame of mind were you when you performed the things on which you now look back with the greatest satisfaction? The lowliest.
3. Here is the comfort to our ministry. God does His own work in the way in which He may best magnify Himself. Therefore He does not employ "the angels," which "excel in strength," but the most unlikely of sinful men (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). There is much ministerial work in the Church which seems to do great things; but that of which the effect is deep and abiding is almost always that of which, at the time, there was little praise, and no celebrity.
1. Every one ought to have in hand something which they feel to be quite beyond them, and therefore compels them to cast themselves on the broad undertaking of God.
2. Whatever is strong in you, whatever you may call your talent, always recognise it as something in you, but not of you.
3. Never be afraid of any work which is clearly duty. Your capital may be nothing; but your resources are infinite.
4. Wherever you find yourself fail in anything, you have nothing to do but to go down a little lower, and make yourself less. Think more of emptying than of filling. To fill, is God's part; to empty, yours.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.