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"The Kind Of Person That God Uses"

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

By Drew Zuverink

"Therefore to keep me from becoming conceited I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Just before our passage Paul had finished writing about the dangers of pride. He was trying very hard to avoid boasting when he was describing all that he had been through for the Lord but it was difficult because he had experienced some wild things that most people had not. He told one story of how he was taken up to heaven in some kind of a vision where he was able to see and hear all sorts of wonderful things. He knows that such a miraculous experience, and all of his previous success in spreading the gospel and performing miracles, could easily result in him becoming prideful and so he writes, "Therefore to keep me from becoming arrogant, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of satan, to torment me."

There are all sorts of theories about what his thorn in the flesh really was but it's impossible to know exactly what was bothering him. Some scholars believe that Paul suffered some sort of physical ailment such as depression, malaria, epilepsy, eye problems, leprosy, or maybe a speech impediment. We don't know what it was but we do know that whatever this "thorn" was - it would appear to Paul, and to everyone else, to be a hindrance to the effectiveness of his ministry. Many people, and probably initially Paul too, believed that Paul would be way more useful to God if he did not have this thorn in the flesh.

They had it all wrong. There was something that could keep Paul from being useful to God but it wasn't his physical setbacks, it was pride. You see God wants the glory and recognition for blessing people and changing their lives - because after all - it is God who has the power to do that! Paul was just an instrument that he used to bless other people. If Paul would have become arrogant because he was being used by God to change the world, or because he was taken to heaven to get a sneak peak - God probably would have stopped using him. That is why God allowed a messenger of satan, probably a demon, to inflict Paul with physical pain and suffering in order to keep him humble and reliant upon God's power.

Do you get what this seems to mean? It seems to me that God is pleased to use a depressed person, a sick person, a handicapped person, a blind person, or a person with a stutter to be his instrument of blessing so long as they rely on his strength and not their own. Why? Because then people will recognize it is the power of God that changes lives and not the abilities of man.

Too often we believe that it takes a smooth talker, a great conversationalist, or maybe someone who is well known, well liked, and has a lot of influence to truly impact many lives for Christ. Sure some people have been given gifts from the Holy Spirit in order to spread the gospel and build up the church - but ultimately I believe there are two things that God looks for in people that he would use to change lives. All it takes to be a usable person for the ministry of Christ is to be humble and willing. It doesn't matter what your personality is like, it doesn't matter how old you are or how well known you are, it doesn't matter if you are great with words or have a stutter - if you are humble enough to rely on God's power and if you are willing - God will use you.

Do you believe that? As you think of yourself, do you believe that God could use you to bring another person to saving faith? If you don't believe that ask yourself why? God does not need a super skilled human being to do anything. All he needs is a humble and willing servant, maybe even preferably with some sort of weakness, because then it will be obvious to the world that it was God and not you.

I hope this is good news to you. I really hope that you want to be an instrument that God will use to play sweet, sweet music by changing people's eternal lives. And if you do, all you have to do is say, "Here I am God, use me." His almighty power, which has no limitations, will do the rest because when we are weak - then we are strong.

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