June/July 2019 - Vol. 104

quote from 2 Cor. 12:9
Living with Thorns in the Flesh.

by Tom Caballes

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

What are your character weaknesses – anger, lust, envy, self-pity, greed, pride, laziness, over-indulgence, lying, or something else? Is it judging others or gossip? Everyone of us has a special weakness; your weakness might be someone else’s strength, and vice-versa. As we count the years of following God, we usually grow little by little, yet some shortcomings are very stubborn to get rid of. They come to us when we are not vigilant or at times of distraction. Some of these weaknesses we will have to battle with for a lifetime; we will never be without faults until we die. It is like having a lifetime nemesis. As Paul said, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV) How about you – what are your thorns in the flesh? Do you have a plan or a strategy to keep your arch-enemy in control? Are you prepared to face your life nemesis until the end?

So How Do We Battle Against and Live with a Thorn in the Flesh?    

  1.  Pursue God and pursue holiness. Holiness does not come in a silver platter – it comes from pursuing God wholeheartedly and living a disciplined life. Ask the Holy Spirit to conquer daily your weaknesses. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)
  2. Our thorns in the flesh keep us humble and serve as a reminder that we always need the grace of God daily in this life. As branches in the vineyard, we cannot live well if we are disconnected to the vine.  God gives us the grace to live a holy life.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4 ESV)
  3. We need to know ourselves and anticipate when we fail. A wax melts candle before a fire – keep the fires in our lives far away from where we melt easily. We need to guard our lips, eyes, and our hearts all the time.
  4. Half the battle is within our minds. We always need to be vigilant and never let our guards down. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:5-6 ESV)
  5. Ask forgiveness from God. We are sinners before Him. God knows us intimately [see Psalm 139]. He knows our hearts even if we fail to conform to His ideals at times. Be confident of God’s love and forgiveness. 
  6. Have personal accountability. Live in the light. Ask help from a trusted and mature person who can help you be accountable for the things you are weak with; use the support available so you can grow in holiness. 
  7. It is a lifetime battle. One brother shared that his battle with lust [maybe his thorn in the flesh] will only go away five minutes after he dies! Be patient, then. Look forward when one day, your life nemesis will disappear forever when we are with God in heaven. In Christ, you will win over your life nemesis!
Other Scripture passages:
  1. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)
  2. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 ESV)
  3. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)
  4. Other Bible verses:  Ephesians 5:8-11; Hebrews 4:13; James 4:7; 1 Peter 1:13-16
For personal reflection or group sharing
  • What are your “Thorns in the Flesh?” How are you managing them to keep them in control? 
Tom Caballes is the National Senior Administrator and a National Coordinator of the Lamb of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with 7 branches located throughout New Zealand. Tom also leads Kairos New Zealand, an outreach program for high school, university, and post-university aged people. 

Tom and his wife Mhel and their two daughters live in Wellington, New Zealand.


Top image credit: https://thankgodquotes.com/2018/09/06/2-corinthians-129-2/
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