Concerning this I implored
the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, ďMy grace is
sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.Ē Most gladly, therefore,
I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell
in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with
distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christís sake; for when I
am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Cor. 12:8-10)
Before Paul was a Christian, he knew Jesus was not the Messiah (Christ). He was so certain he was correct in his conclusion, he arrested his own Jewish people, knowing their arrest could lead to death (see Acts 8:1-3 and 9:1, 2). After the events of Acts 9:3-9, Paul knew the exact oppositeóhe knew Jesus was the Christ.
When the disciple, Ananias, was hesitant to deliver the Lordís message to Paul, the Lord told Ananias, ďGo, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My nameís sakeĒ (Acts 9:15, 16).
No one valued more the gift of Godís grace through Jesus Christ than did Paul. The Lordís mercy and forgiveness overwhelmed him! He once wrote of himself, ďI thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal lifeĒ (1 Timothy 1:12-16). In Paulís estimation, he had been the greatest sinner alive. He received mercy because (a) he acted in ignorance of who Jesus actually was, and (b) he could be used as proof that if God could forgive him, forgiveness could be extended to anyone.
Paul clearly understood that he was not in a saved relationship with God because he, Paul, was wonderful and talented. He, Paul, was in a saved relationship with God because God is wonderful. The fact that God is wonderful is seen in what God did in Jesusí death and resurrection. The fact that Jesus was Lord was seen in his total surrender to the Father to achieve the Fatherís purposes. Paul was more than willing to serve as God and His Christís example of the power of divine mercy and grace in forgiveness. Paul was deeply appreciative of the forgiveness he received; he was more than willing to demonstrate God can save anyone.
2 Corinthians 11:24-33 and 12:1-10 declare some of the prices Paul paid for the blessing he found in Jesus Christ. Do not look at Paulís sufferings as retribution from God. Look at them as the prices he paid to confront evil. Do not complain when your blessings cost you. Instead, focus on the value of your blessings. Never forget, evil confronts godliness.
Link to other Writings of David Chadwell