“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Initially, Paul can only think about stopping the pain. He pleaded three times. Strong stuff.
God’s grace is sufficient (here meaning His favor and presence)… Paul discovers this is his only barrier against despair. Knowing God in his daily experience is enough.
Where God is… ALL of God is.
- God is not coming to prop up his strength. Human “strength” is an illusion.
- God often allows our human props to get knocked out from under us.
- In the experience of his weakness, Paul experiences more of God and what He wants to do in Paul’s circumstances.
“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
He now prefers the highest forms of dependence on Christ. The greatest challenges and difficulties become fresh opportunities to trust Him, experience Him, and pursue His way through those difficulties.
Christ’s power hangs with the powerless.
Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
1 Corinthians 16:20 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
1 Thessalonians 5:26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.
1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love.
Do you remember your first kiss? Sure you do! What makes it so special? What is it about a kiss that so captures the imagination and heart of our culture?
Let me suggest that with a kiss we are communicating our affection and acceptance of another person. Intimacy. Warmth. With just a kiss.
Every culture has a way of doing that, but we have done it for centuries with a kiss. Two millennia have not altered the basic message. Paul wants us to greet one another with the highest form of affection.
How can we do this today?
(1) Determine to take every instance of greeting seriously – Paul is really issuing a command to obey. Greeting one another is a non-optional activity. So we ought to carefully reflect on how we normally greet others. We should avoid simple protocol greetings when possible — let’s get real!
(2) Take the focus off yourself and place it on the other person – Think about the kind of recognition you would want to receive. Think about the times when a poor greeting was hurtful to you.
(3) Learn and use a person’s name in your greeting – Think of the other person as family. Knowing and using a name is a measure of a person’s significance to you. Paul greeted no less than 25 persons by name in Romans 16 in a city he had never visited! Names are vital.
(4) Bless the person with affirmation and interest – “Pause” for the person as you greet them. Acknowledge enduring qualities you appreciate about them. Ask them genuine, probing questions. Introduce them to others with words of affirmation.
(5) And yes – do use an appropriate physical expression of affection – Paul stresses use of the “holy kiss” — please understand that he was referring to greetings between the same sexes! While the function of greeting never changes, but the physical form may vary from culture to culture. Whether it’s a warm handshake and a hug, a squeeze of a shoulder or arm, or a simple pat on the back – we must not offend or tempt others with the physical form of our greeting. But don’t be afraid to display warm affection.