Whatsoever Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
What is a Thorn Anyway?
One of the most quoted verses of scripture is found in the 2nd book of Corinthians where the Apostle Paul says he had a “thorn in the flesh”- vs 7. There is a great deal of speculation as to what this was. It may have been temptations from the Devil, or persecutions from enemies, some chronic - intense pain, some mental/emotional problem, or deterioration of his vision which was addressed elsewhere in scripture. No one really knows what it was, but it was accompanied by shame and embarrassment.
In verse 8 he says he asked the Lord three times to take it away, and in verse 9 the Lord answers him with: “My grace is sufficient for thee”.
The meaning of this passage is very often interpreted (for us) as some random malady or situation, from which we are to glean some spiritual nugget. This is only a small part of the truth. Go back to the beginning of the chapter where you’ll see where Paul (speaking of himself) relates the experience of catching a glimpse of Heaven. This was such an overwhelming revelation to him, he was in danger of getting Big Headed about it. He was tempted to think more of himself than he did before. He was tempted to think more highly of himself than his neighbors. He was tempted to think more highly of himself than he ought = Pride = Sin. What is the big deal?   Well, for starters, God Hates Pride.  It’s not that He doesn’t care for it, He Despises it. “Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished” - Proverbs 16:5.    So what’s the result?   Well here it is, and when you hear it you will either sigh an “A-Men” from experience, or you will bow your neck and say “This can’t be right!”
 What we are talking about here is the Strength through Weakness principal found throughout scripture, yet almost non existent in our culture. For the sake of time, let’s look at 1st Cor. 1:26-31 where we learn not many wise, or mighty, or noble are called, but “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong” - vs 27. 
What has this to do with Paul?  Go back to our text and see in vs 7 that just to prevent Paul from getting to high minded, God gave him a thorn in the flesh. What? Look at vs 10 where Paul even praises God for the persecutions and infirmities for “When I am weak, then am I strong”.
This is an almost impossible lesson for most of us.  A. W. Tosier wrote “it is doubtful that God uses anyone greatly, until He has hurt him significantly”.  We may not like this, but it is scripturally sound. It isn’t that God wants to belittle you for no reason, but rather He longs for you to depend on Him completely.  That’s really a beautiful thought. If you want to do things on your own, He will let you. And when you fall, you will do that on your own. Draw near to God. He has a plan for your life and is the enabler of your life. Apart from God, you will never know the plan He has for you. It is a great plan.













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