December 29, 2015 , Pastor Jack Wellman
Here are seven Bible verses about vulnerability.
Second Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Can anyone be more vulnerable than the Apostle Paul? When I came into the pastorate, I told the congregation all about my sordid past and left nothing out of consequence. It was something I learned from Paul and his openness and transparency like when he mentions persecuting the church but he also speaks of his own weaknesses or vulnerabilities in order point them to Christ and His sufficient-for-the-day grace. God’s grace is all that they’ll need and why he was “content with weaknesses.” In fact, Paul is the strongest at the exact time when he is the weakest. How is that possible? It’s possible because of “the power of Christ” that rests upon him.
Romans 7:23-24 “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
If you’ve ever read Romans chapter 7, then you’ve read about Paul’s wrestling with his sin nature and, just like Jacob wrestled with God, we too will wrestle our old natures. We should be able to say right along with Paul that “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom 7:15). Paul was stuck in the maze of the flesh just like we are, and he struggled to get out and so will we. Paul had the “desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom 7:18b-19). Amen Paul. The Apostle John wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” and “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1st John 1:8, 10). So what can we do? Nothing but cry out to Jesus and declare ourselves a wretch before God but then Paul answers the question of how he can be delivered from the law of sin; “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:25).
Second Corinthians 13:4 “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.”
Paul again refers to weakness in order to “live by the power of God.” Paul added that “we live with him (Jesus) by the power of God,” since of ourselves we can do absolutely nothing (John 15:5) and nothing is not a little something. Jesus was crucified in weakness but raised in the Power of God. Christians are much like Paul; battling with the law of sin (Rom 7) but it’s good to be in the battle because that shows you the Spirit is convicting you of sin and that means you’re on the right side of the battleground and that’s why Paul wrote “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:37).
James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
This is like having an accountability partner. I suggest that men or women who are struggling with drugs, alcohol, or pornography find an accountability partner and agree to meet with them on a regular and consistent basis. If we know that we’re going to have to confess our sins to one another, we might be more hesitant to do them. James seems to be saying that confession or coming before God (1st John 1:9) with clean hands and a pure heart can open the possibility of a potently answered prayer. Apparently, the righteous person’s prayers can have a great amount power; and of course that is God’s power, not ours.
First Corinthians 2:3-4 “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. “
Paul was such a humble man; so much so that proclaimed himself as the worst of sinners (1st Tim 1:15) and said, “I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1st Cor 15:9) but he may have in fact been the greatest of them all and possibly the least of all sinners. You wouldn’t have caught Paul ever boasting about himself. The only time he boasted was in his weaknesses. Paul’s weaknesses allow God’s grace to flow where human effort shuts it off. For Paul, who suffered greatly, God’s grace was just enough sufficiency for the day and like the manna, there was just enough for the day. There is no grace available for tomorrow until you get there.
Second Corinthians 11:27-30 “I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
Are you sensing something about vulnerability yet? It’s about declaring our weakness before others and before God. This allows God’s grace to flow. When we are weak, we leave room for grace to pour in. Paul must have received a lot of grace because he was weakened by a lack of sleep, hunger, cold, nakedness, pressures, anxieties, beatings, imprisonments and but Paul would say, “Wow! Just think of the potential flow of grace from God in all this!”
Second Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
I feel more and more like a jar of clay. It is getting cracks in it. It is becoming more fragile but what’s inside, thankfully, is eternal. You can drop the jar and shatter it but the treasure in the jar, never! Broken, frail, feeble jars of clay allow God “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” That’s really a great relief, isn’t it?
Apparently Paul was very open to what he experienced and was most vulnerable about his weaknesses, his enemies, and his thorn in the flesh but because of his vulnerability, God had easy access to pour in His grace. It was only by God’s grace that he could say; for when I am weak, then I am strong. God wants us to know that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us but God’s power is made perfect only in weakness or vulnerability.