What are we to make of Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 11:30 where he declares, “if I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness”? One would think that if Paul’s hand were forced and he had to stoop to the level of his enemies in this matter of boasting, the least he could do was think up a few praiseworthy accomplishments or something that would silence his accusers. We are all pretty adept at avoiding embarrassing topics. Most people have learned the art of maneuvering a conversation away from anything that might show them in a bad light or disclose their incompetence. And should it happen that some shameful item is noted, we’re also pretty good at explaining it away or justifying it to protect our public image. Anything to save face!
Paul’s singular commitment to the preeminence of God’s Glory simply would not permit him to engage in such behaviour. He’s happy to boast, if he must, but only in such a way that, when done, all the praise goes to God and all the power is clearly seen to have come from above. These are two specific manifestations of his weakness to which Paul draws our attention. The fact that he refuses to focus on his undeniable strengths, combined with the unusual nature of these displays of human weakness and embarrassment, compel him to employ an oath lest people dismiss his comments as beyond belief.
Clearly, then, to boast in weakness does not mean:
1. We cease striving for excellence.
2. We passively yield to obstacles in our way without a fight.
It simply means we renounce self-reliance and worldly triumphalism and wholly depend on the strength of Christ to accomplish in and through us whatever will bring him glory. It means that we joyfully pay the price and gladly embrace the stigma that inevitably comes with godliness of life and obedience to the Gospel of Grace.
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