Were it not for the Apostle Paul's testimony otherwise, we might suppose that God's apostle instantly and definitively overcame every challenge he faced during his life as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not the case.
"I was with you in much weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling… we are perplexed, but not in despair" (I Corinthians 2:3; II Corinthians 4:8).
The Paul who confessed, "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing", experienced the same realities of imperfection we all encounter along the path of righteousness (Romans 7:18). He required growth and maturing no less than any other Christian - "I count not myself to have apprehended" (Philippians 3:13). Certainly our brother of old serves as an example of faith and faithfulness to us. Moreover, the Holy Spirit led Paul to write that he finished the course of life and ministry given to him by God (Philippians 4:9; II Timothy 4:7). Neither the Lord nor Paul, however, would have us view the Apostle as more than he was. Paul shined as the moon to God's sun, as it were, possessing no light in and of himself, but rather reflecting the glory of the Lord Jesus who enabled every act of faithful obedience in His trusting servant - "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).
Recognizing this truth about Paul encourages and challenges believers to our own path of devotion to God. We all share the human realities of our brother's "weakness… fear… trembling… perplexity." In our flesh dwells no good thing. We also share, however, in the good Christ who indwelled Paul's spirit through the presence of the Holy Spirit. No less enabling resides in us than it did in the Apostle. We confess our human weakness, as did Paul. However, we also affirm with Paul that God never intended for His children to live through the auspices of our humanity. Again, "I can do all things through Christ" (emphasis added). When we think of Paul and his faithfulness, we glance with respect for our brother, but gaze with reverence for the Christ who empowered every step of our brother's life of self-sacrificial devotion. "Not unto us, not unto us, o Lord, but unto Thy name give glory" (Psalm 115:1).
The same Spirit of Christ that graced Paul's days of faithfulness graces this day in our walk with God. Thus, we possess no less capacity for devotion than did our brother of old. In Paul's life, Christ was the issue, the source of all goodness and godliness. Our blessed Lord serves as the issue and the source for the same in our lives, in this day. Let us go forth with the apostle's honest admission of weakness, but even more, in his confidence that the Lord spoke truly when He declared unto His servant…
"My strength is made perfect in weakness."
(II Corinthians 12:9)
"By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
(I Corinthians 15:10)
Weekly Memory Verse
Every word of God is pure. He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him."