if i must boast, i will boast of the things that show my weakness. the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that i am not lying. at damascus, the governor under king aretas was guarding the city of damascus in order to seize me, but i was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands. [2 corinthians 11:30-33]
the theme that we have seen over and over in these passages of 2 corinthians is that we are weak and God is strong. we cannot boast in ourselves, because God orchestrates all things for his good and his glory.
paul continues here boasting in his foolishness and weakness. the story paul is referring to in this passage can be found in acts 9:19-25 and is fascinating, because paul is a brand new believer. he spends a little time with the disciples regaining his strength after his encounter with Jesus, then he immediately starts preaching the gospel–so full of zeal is his preaching, that the jews seek to silence him and put him to death! his first ministry outing causes so much controversy, that the disciples (who are actually still scared of him because of his past reputation) lower him by a basket in order for him to escape the hands of his would-be murderers.
how does this boast of God’s strength and wisdom?
new believers can be used mightily. we often put new believers who confess faith in Christ on the sidelines waiting for them to “prove themselves” through growing in knowledge and service. God clearly does not work this way. God demonstrates his strength by taking a former enemy, triumphing over his will, then making him a bold proclaimer of the Gospel–this doesn’t happen by luck or will of man, it only happens by the transforming power of Christ. what can we learn from this? don’t seek to extinguish the zeal of someone who has newly professed Christ!
risk is right. we seek safety and security, looking for ways to protect our physical selves or our reputation. God has no regard for our identity found in worldly things. he sovereignly calls a people to obedience, and sometimes those who follow will die for their faith–this doesn’t mean that someone made a poor decision–in paul’s own words: to live is Christ and to die is gain. [phillipians 1:21] when God does protect, he does it in unlikely, sovereign, basket-lowering means.
the gospel prevails. at the beginning of acts 9, saul was breathing “threats and murder” against the followers of Christ, and after his encounter with Christ, the only thing that matters to him is the beauty and glory of the risen King. this is what the Gospel does, it transforms us at our core, and i need to be reminded of it often.
today, read acts 9 and rest in the presence of God–remember your own conversion–how your dead rebellious heart was at enmity with God, and how he overcame you, called you, washed you and made you his own. he continues to overcome you–you are an instrument of God and he will use you in your foolishness and weakness to boast in Christ alone.
now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. amen. [jude 1:24]