The Reason for Paul’s Thorn
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”2 Corinthians 12:7-9
The Word doesn’t identify the thorn in Paul’s flesh, but the Word tells us how the Lord used the thorn for his glory and for Paul’s benefit. Paul was well educated and a leading Pharisee, but he had a tendency to be prideful. Christ used the thorn in Paul’s flesh to humble him so he would let the power of the Spirit be revealed through him.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:20). The Spirit’s power in Paul was enabled by the thorn in his flesh which weakened him and made him dependent on the Lord.
We all struggle with pride and being dependent on the Lord. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5). When we minister to others, guided by the Spirit, we can bear fruit because the Spirit will bring scriptures and words to the person we are ministering to. Paul learned this the hard way – a thorn in his flesh. Can you imagine Paul, beginning to be prideful, when suddenly the thorn in his flesh would cause him pain and remind him to rely on the Spirit? I have found when teaching a Bible class that I must prepare through much prayer and guidance by the Spirit; when the actual class begins I commune with the Spirit for words and insight in understanding the people I am teaching. This took lots of training to be dependent on the Spirit, but I think it’s easier than having a thorn in my flesh.
Christians today may not have as much trouble with pride as Paul did. However being self-sufficient and prideful is a strong temptation for the rich. But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Being dependent on the Lord takes a thankful heart, knowing that every good and perfect gift is from God. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).
Today remember the thorn in Paul’s flesh and let it remind you not to be prideful, but instead let the Spirit reveal the power of Christ in you. When we commune with the Lord and submit to his guidance, the Spirit brings words and scriptures into our thoughts, and the power that we experience is amazing. In your heart know that you are dependent on the Lord and let his power work through you.
Let’s Pray: Lord, Let the Spirit remind me to call on you today to keep me from being prideful and trying to minister in my own strength. Let the Spirit remind me to call on you for insight, words and scriptures. Keep me humble today with a heart that fully depends on you. In Jesus name, Amen