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Mar 15

Session 5 Recap: Phillips, “Contentment With Our Weaknesses”

2014 | by Tim Ragsdale | Category: Clarus 14,Gospel

Editor’s Note: Tim Ragsdale is an Elder at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, NM. This post is a summary of Rick Phillips’ message from Saturday afternoon at Clarus, March 15, “Contentment With Our Weaknesses,” from 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.

•••••

Pastor Phillips began by reading 2 Cor. 12:1-10 and by describing how Paul was defending himself against the so-called “super apostles,” not by boasting in his strengths and accomplishments, but by boasting in his weaknesses.

Pastor Phillips gave five points relating contentment and our weaknesses:

1) Christians will have wonderful experiences, but with those they will have suffering and weakness that need to be handled with prayer.

This is the Christian life.  Paul’s thorn in the flesh is a subject of a lot of speculation and is never explained physically, but we can know that it was painful and annoying.  As Christians in this fallen world we can expect our own thorns.  Paul (with his thorn), like the Lord Jesus (Gethsemane) responded to suffering, not with self-pity, but with prayer.

Christians will suffer trials, tribulations, temptations, persecutions, discouragements, and weakness.  “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29).

2) Contentment is aided by an understanding of God and His purposes.

When Christians can embrace God’s goodness and purpose in suffering, they can know that they are not alone in it. God is using it for good, and in this sense God is protecting them.  Paul recognized the necessity of his suffering, and therefore took comfort in it and embraced it:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11)

3) Contentment is encouraged by God’s sufficient grace. 

While earthly possessions are not distributed evenly, all believers share equally in the spiritual gifts in the heavenly places – forgiveness, adoption, seal of the Holy Spirit, and position as heir with Christ (Eph. 1). Pastor Phillips then described Joni Eareckson Tada’s story of growing to realize that her life as a minister of the Gospel from a wheelchair was not God’s “Plan B” for her life but was “Plan A” all along.

4) Contentment is experienced as God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

It is in our weakness that God’s power is evident.  Two examples:

Major League Baseball pitcher Dave Dravecky’s tragic shoulder injuries and subsequent amputation tempted him to bitterness, but he learned that God was using and being glorified in him all along.

The missionary William Carey was rejected by his missions agency, weak in every respect by worldly standards and yet proved faithful and fruitful.  His understanding of God’s power inspired him say and live, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

5)  Contentment is manifested as we rejoice in our weakness.

We need only to look to the Cross to see the thorn we deserve. Christ rejoiced in his appointed suffering:

Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Heb. 12:2-3)