“For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction” (2 Corinthians 13:9-10).
A brief examination of the Apostle Paul’s life will quickly uncover some of his astounding credentials. For instance, Paul was the human agent who was responsible for producing a significant portion of the books that comprise the New Testament Scriptures. He spoke before some of the leading political and religious figures of his day. He was given a personal vision of paradise and the ability to perform unusual miracles. Through the Biblical books that bear his name, Paul’s writings have influenced countless lives over the past twenty centuries. In fact, it may be said that Paul has had a greater impact on human history than any person who has ever lived other than Jesus.
In light of these things, it is fascinating to consider Paul’s incredibly humble statement in 2 Corinthians 13:9: “We are glad to be weak if it means that you are strong. Our ambition for you is true Christian maturity” (Phillips). This tells us that Paul could look beyond his personal reputation to focus upon something that was far more important.
In this instance, Paul was willing to accept the perception of weakness if it led to spiritual growth and maturity among the members of the Corinthian church. Paul’s experience reminds us that we may sometimes be asked to endure a less-than-ideal circumstance if it serves to benefit others. However, this concept also applies to those periods of blessings we experience as well.
For instance, Israel’s king David was among the most powerful men on earth in his day. Despite this, the Scriptures record the following acknowledgment regarding David’s attitude: “…David realized that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel” (2 Samuel 5:12). So while God surely blessed David on a personal level, David also recognized the fact that his status as a monarch meant more than just a blessing for himself; he also understood that he had been blessed for the sake of others as well.
The same is just as true for us as it was Paul and David. Whether we receive weakness, authority, or something in-between, we can maintain the right perspective if we pause to remember an important truth: the way we address the circumstances of our lives can often have a positive spiritual impact upon others.