Boasting in Weakness (2 Corinthians 11:30) - Radical

Boasting in Weakness (2 Corinthians 11:30)

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
– 2 Corinthians 11:30

Now, that’s a different way to think. That’s a different way to live. It’s a different way to boast. We are all tempted to boast in the things that show our strengths. Isn’t that the way boasting works? You do something well and you’re proud of it. You have a particular strength and you’re proud of it. And so you boast of your strength.

2 Corinthians 11:30 Teaches Us that Boasting in Weakness is Boasting in God’s Strength

So why does Paul say, “If I must boast, I will boast the things that show my weakness”? This is one of those places where the Gospel just turns everything upside down. Just think about this concept in terms of Jesus’ initial words to his disciples, to you and me.

“If anyone must come after me, he must,” what? Promote himself? Exalt himself? Please himself? Assert himself? Do all the things that the world around us would encourage us to do? Assert ourselves? Be true to ourselves? Promote ourselves? Like this is a way to get ahead?

Jesus says, “No. If anybody’s going to come after me, he must deny himself. Die to himself. Take up a cross daily and follow me.” This is the essence of what it means to follow Jesus. To deny, die to yourself.

So Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:30, is basically just saying the exact same thing. “I will boast the things that show my weakness.” Why? Because those things show the power of God in my life. That it’s not about me. It’s not about myself and asserting myself. In language from John 3:30, “I must decrease. He must increase.” And so there is a boasting that’s found in weakness, because it’s an opportunity to point to the strength of God, to the grace of God in our lives. And when you think about it, this is our lives. We are all weak to the core.

2 Corinthians 11:30 Teaches Us that When We are Weak God Shows His Power in Us

John 15, “Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing.” We can’t do anything in and of ourselves, even our strengths. What we might be tempted to boast in as our strengths are boasts in the strength of God. Because apart from his grace, his mercy, his strength in our lives, we don’t have strength. We don’t have anything good apart from Him.

And so the whole Christian life at the core is a boasting in our weakness. Because when we are weak, God is strong. When we are sinners, God is able to save. And in every facet of our lives, we can do nothing without him. And by his grace, he gives us the grace to do all kinds of things in, with, for him in this world, to his glory, in ways that lead us to boast not in our strength, but in his strength amidst our weakness.

So God, help us, we pray, to reformat our entire thinking, our entire perspective on our lives, that we when boast of the things that show our weakness. Knowing that when we are weak, you are strong. That you are sufficient. That you are able to do in us and through us immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine, and certainly all than we could do ourselves.

So God, amidst the many areas of our lives where we feel our weakness today, I could start listing them out personally in my life right now. God, I pray for your strength in my life, and I pray for your strength over every single person listening right now, in areas where they feel weak. And God, in areas where we feel strong, where we might be tempted to boast in our strengths, help us to see, realize that these strengths are because of your strength.

That these areas, where we seem to excel, are because of your grace, that enables us to excel. In all things, we are weak and we need your strength. We praise you for your gracious, merciful, loving, willingness, generosity with your strength, to provide for us in every way we need.

Prayer for the Mongallese Arab People

God, we pray specifically today for Mongallese Arab people in South Sudan. Lord, so many of them, almost all of the 200,000 of them, have little to no knowledge of Jesus, of the one who meets them at their deepest point of weakness, saves them from their sin, and brings them into relationship with You, and fills them with Your spirit.

God, we pray for the salvation of Mongallese Arab men and women and children in South Sudan, especially amidst all the turmoil, and challenges, and trials that people in South Sudan have gone through. God, we pray, and are going through right now. Please, God, show your strength in their weakness. Ultimately, there’s a spread of the gospel to them.

God, we praise you for turning our lives, our entire worldviews, upside down in ways that are good for us and glorifying to you.

We pray all of this according to your Word in 2 Corinthians 11:30. In Jesus’ name, in the name of the One, through whom we can do all things because of his strength in us. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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