Reflection and study notes on Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 12-
“And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“And He said to me, “ My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:19a
There is no lack in God’s supply, we are filled by Jesus. Water turned to wine for celebration. A handful of fish and bread becomes enough to feed thousands who hunger. Our weakness and failure, sickness and sins will never push God away from us, but rather gives His grace room to move in where we need it most. The more space, the more room for grace. Paul prays for the thorn in his flesh to be removed three times. God’s answer is clear. Grace. Being content in the weakness. Therein lies true strength.
In my weakness, there is temptation to reach for things other than God. Where I am lacking, my pride tells me I am justified to reach for the things the world gives no matter the cost. It’s so easy, but the consequences can be hard. Letting God’s power work in my life means to take His unending, smiling grace over me as the gift it is, and let His strength supply all my needs.
The distance between God’s perfection and me is filled with grace. No amount of doing better will make a dent in the amount of grace I need. I saw a diagram of a line drawn representing God and His perfectness. And another line drawn just below representing a Christian’s mark toward perfection. Grace filled the space. But you know what? That space was too small. Any line drawn anywhere near God’s perfection symbolizing me would be too close. That space filled with grace? It’s immense. As it should be. Our sin nature is what it is. No amount of striving will ever make us sin free. It just is. If anyone boasts of being near perfection in God’s eyes just doesn’t get it. It’s not about how good or bad we are, but it’s about how good God is.
His goodness compared to ours is referenced as filthy rags. This is just our state of affairs. The original sin is our heritage. But our inheritance through Jesus is a Kingdom of glory. We will get there. But not in this life. And so we need more and more grace to fill the space. We need to stop looking at the bar set for ourselves as if it will ever reach God’s level of perfection. But God’s love? We are soaked, if only we would realize it sooner than later. Ever flowing love comes to us like a raging river. Jesus filled that grace gap. We don’t need anything else.
Take the grace. Be filled with it. Let Him be enough. Then our response in living will be love poured out on others. Compassion. Humility in serving others. Not serving others a false picture of us. Some kind of place to reach for. Don’t reach for me or for what you think others have. Reach for God. I want to point others to Jesus. He is perfect. And His perfect love is sufficient for all of our needs. We need His love. We need His grace. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Not in our strength. I am finally getting it. It’s not about moving closer to perfection, but letting His perfection move in closer to me. My sin that I thought separated me from God? It’s exactly the space that fills up with grace. I am God’s beloved child. Nothing can separate me from that truth. And nothing I do makes Him love me any more or any less.
Lord, Help me live better with the thorns in my flesh. Help me to let the space for grace be as large as it needs to be and let me remember that it is the grace that links me to You. I am drawn in and tethered to You through Jesus. If the thorns are not removed, let them be covered by You. Your strength is made perfect in weakness and in my reliance on You. Teach me more about Your grace. When I am weak, I am strong in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.