2Co 12:5-7 “Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”
As Paul concludes his third person account of his experience of being “caught up to the third heaven” (see verse 2), he says he will boast of this man. With a casual reading, we might be tempted to think that Paul was boasting about his experience as though it were something that marked him as being exceptionally worthy. This was not Paul’s point at all. Actually, Paul was pointing out that, as a natural man, he was very unworthy.
Paul was boasting of a spiritual experience he had received from the Lord. It was the grace of this experience that Paul was glorying in. He was rejoicing in the things that he had seen which were so marvelous that he did not have language to properly speak of them. He went on to tell us that the only thing he could claim of himself was his weakness.
Anyone who has been blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit has at least some idea of Paul’s feeling of wonder when he was caught up to paradise. It is still marvelous to us today when we are blessed to hear the gospel and find ourselves set free from doubt and fear by a declaration of grace and love that speaks directly to our hearts. We know this is not something we have received because we are deserving of it. Instead, like Paul, we testify of the grace of God in our lives in spite of our weakness.
Paul further tells us that if he was to boast of his experience in the Lord, it would not really be foolish. It is not really egotistical when he speaks the truth of the power of God in his life. However, he told the brethren that he was holding back (forbear) from all that he could say. He did not intend for them to think he was something special just because he was Paul.
We sometimes forget that God’s grace bestowed upon us is just that; grace. He has not revealed His Son in us because of who we are or what we have accomplished with our lives. His wondrous revelations have been given because of who He is. Our desire should always be to share these things in a way that gives Him all the honor and glory.
God created us, and He knows we were made subject to vanity (Romans 8:20) “by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope.” He has promised us a way of escape from every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). In His mercy, God has given us a thorn in the flesh so that we would not become haughty. Because of our weakness, we do not lose sight of God’s greatness.
May we be always thankful for the gift of God that keeps us humble before Him and His people!