2 Corinthians 11:30 – “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
No one likes a bragger. There are too many people around who are living for themselves, looking to show off their accomplishments as they make a name for themselves, thinking that the rest of the world is looking to them as if they are the next best thing since sliced bread. If that describes you, your greatness may be in the same vein as sliced bread. Take that as a compliment, if you really want.
When you read 2 Corinthians 10 through 12, Paul’s tone comes across as if he is bragging. You would never want to say that he is in fact bragging, as he is clearly defending his ministry to people in the Corinthian church who were doubting his ministry. In these three chapters though, Paul uses the word “boast” 16 times. Paul is doing everything he can to walk a careful line. He wants to convince the Corinthians that he is credible and worth listening to and following, yet he doesn’t want to come across as if he is bragging about all that he has done.
Consider 2 Corinthians 10:17-18: “‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” It isn’t the one who can go on a tirade about all his good works and accomplishments that the Lord looks upon with favor. No, it is the one the Lord commends that is approved.
Amazingly, even though Paul spoke these words in 2 Corinthians 10:17-18, he then felt it necessary to “speak as a fool” and list out all of his background and all that he had done. When I read this section of Scripture, I find myself shocked that Paul is saying some of the things he is saying. He doesn’t want to come across as arrogant or proud, yet he must express his credibility. Being a human, I’m sure Paul struggled with pride; in fact, he tells us as much in 2 Corinthians 12. I’m sure he was walking this line really carefully. This is why Paul highlights the need to boast about his weakness, and to highlight the fact that the Lord humbled him in a mighty way by bringing him his thorn in the flesh in order to keep him humble and reliant on the Lord.
So what role is there for us in boasting of our weaknesses? Clearly, the purpose for Paul was to honor God as being the one who worked miraculously in his life to put him in a place that he was still used by God in the midst of his weaknesses. In fact, Paul even says in 2 Corinthians 12 that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. So, when we see God at work in us and through us, what is being displayed is not our greatness at all; what is being evidenced is that we are weak! What Paul is helping us see is that God does his most significant work in us and through when we are weak and unable. What an idea! So does this mean we should boast about our weaknesses? Sometimes, yes. But as Paul says, if we are boasting about anything at all, it must be all about the Lord and His work!
Praise God that he allows us to live in our weakness! Because when we are weak, then He is strong!