As believers one of our most familiar scripture readings is the love chapter, I Corinthians 13. As we know, this love is the love of God imparted to us through the indwelling Christ as we yield and surrender our lives to Him. Verse 4 declares that this love suffers long and is kind, envies not, vaunts not itself and is not ‘puffed up‘. All these are characteristics and attributes of the indwelling Christ by the Spirit of God within us. If I have not the fruit, I am lacking the root. The manifest presence of the glory of God is found in the face of Jesus Christ – treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of God and not of ourselves – II Corinthians 4:6,7.
If I am vaunting myself, if I am puffed up I am not manifesting the love of God. Whenever my pride is manifested God resists me. Wherever humility is manifested God’s grace is evident. II Peter 5:5,6 tells us that God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud.
II Corinthians 12:7-10 says And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. Paul’s thorn in the flesh which was the messenger of satan to buffet him, we are told twice in verse 7 of II Corinthians 12 was lest he should be exalted above measure and although he sought the Lord three times that it might be removed, God’s answer was “My grace is sufficient for thee for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul declares that he would gladly rather glory in his infirmities, for when he is weak then he is strong.
Do I appreciate that the pricks, thorns and buffetings of life are a means to an end? God has permitted in His wisdom circumstances in my life that he could have prevented in His power – these are the means (if I am yielding to Him) that will ensure the power of Christ will rest upon me.
Is there not a more excellent way? Do I have to be the victim of a spiritual porcupine, enduring pricks and thorns in my flesh life to keep me humble? Do I have to keep enduring visitations from satan to buffet me to keep me humble? NO! NO! NO! I say, there is a far more excellent way! These are external measures designed and permitted of God to prevent me vaunting myself and exalting my flesh. Am I like the man in the asylum, banging his head against the wall, who, when asked why he keeps doing it, answers “it’s so nice when I stop.”
The key to the mystery of the indwelling Christ, the ‘abiding life’, is that I walk in humility. I only have to come down where I have risen up in my flesh life – pride or ego. Hebrews 4:5-7 exhorts us to enter into God’s rest and “today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” – I must have wrought in me the work of God to produce the intimacy of relationship whereby I will recognise ‘His voice‘ and ‘obey‘! on a daily basis. This is the process God is working in my life ‘that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by ‘any means’ I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead, not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. I count not myself to have apprehended ;but this one thing I do,forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. ‘ Philippians 3:10-15 Life comes out of death!
Don’t ask God to change your circumstances, he sent them to change you!