(2 Corinthians 12:7 - 10 KJV) 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.
Once upon a time there was a man with five sons. One of his sons was obedient the other four were rebellious. Near their home was a river and the father always told his sons to never go near the river. Well, the obedient son listened to the father but one hot summer day the other four sons went down to the river and jumped in. It was not long before they were in trouble. the undertow in the river pulled them downstream then the currents washed them further and further away from their home. the rapids became rough and the four boys were fighting for their lives. Down, Down the river they were taken. White water and water falls. barely hanging onto their last breaths they fought their selves to shore. Coming to they found themselves in a strange land far from home. The father had given them enough survival skills that they quickly built a fire and sat by it discussing what they would do. They realized that they were far, far from home with no hope of finding their way back. The first son then resigned to not even try. he set out to build a hut and just live where he was. He would make the best of it and forget about the father and his true home. The second son was critical of the first and went up on a high cliff and watched the first son build his hut. he even took notes, recording everything that the first son did. He was going to watch him and tell the father every bad thing that the fist son did in this strange land. The third son decided that he could make it back to the father on his own. He set out to cut through the jungle and fight the elements on his own. He did not need anybody or anything. He could make it home by his own efforts. After some time the obedient son showed up in the distant land with a boat to bring his four brothers home. There on the shore he found the last brother waiting. The obedient son told his brother how that father had sent him to come and get the lost son's. When he found the first son building his hut the one building refused to go back. "This is my home now." "I have new friends and this little hut. I am staying right here." the second son, who was watching the first would not go either. "Oh no, I can not leave, I have to watch the first son and record all the bad things that he is doing. If I go with you who will watch him?" After finding the third son just a little way up stream the obedient son offered him a ride home but he refused. He was going to make it under his own power. He would prove to the father that he could do it. Needless to say the only son who ever made it back to the father was the one that the obedient son brought back with him. My question for you today is which attitude do you have. Are you resigned to stay as you are thinking there is no hope for a better tomorrow. Or are you being critical of everything and everybody. How about the son that was trying to make it on his own? Do you strive and strive only to find yourself right back where you started. Today I want us to look at our attitudes and make the changes that will give us a more Kingdom attitude.
I believe that there is a direct correlation between spiritual things and the physical world. In the scripture verse above Paul is describing the "thorn in his flesh." Have you ever had a thorn in the flesh? Sometimes they can be other people that rub you the wrong way. Sometimes it can be a physical ailment or infirmity. Sometimes it can be financial struggles, or emotional distress. What ever your thorn is God has an answer for you. Notice how Paul cried out to God three times to be delivered from this thing. Is there something in your life that you have been pleading with God that He change. I want you to know that God is exceedingly abundantly able to do more then you can even ask Him for. The question for you today is what is your attitude about that thorn today. I want to look at the attitudes of the sons in our story and see what comparisons we can make in our own attitudes toward life. The first son who built his own hut I call the apathetic attitude. He has given up on ever getting home. How many of us have given up on ever getting any better. How many have given up on ever getting rid of the thorn in our flesh. I remember back in my college days at S.U.N.Y. Oswego how at first I was involved in student government and political affairs. Then one of the most influential student leaders quit and came up with the slogan that apathy was not the problem but the solution and I bought into it and gave up too. For those of you who do not know apathy is the idea of just not caring, giving up. You might remember me writing about the stages of the rise and fall of a democracy. Going form captivity to rebellion, from rebellion to freedom, from freedom to great prosperity, from great prosperity to complacency, from complacency to apathy from apathy back into captivity. The same can be said of our spiritual life. We need to return to our first love. We need to fan the flames of revival in our hearts. We need to stir up the gifts within us and never, never, give up.
son was the critical one. Having a critical attitude towards life wakes it
impossible to enjoy life. Whether you are critical of others or yourself you are
not doing anybody any good by constantly criticizing. There is a lot of talk in
the church today about hypocrisy. Well I believe that it is not so much the fact
that God's people are not living up to the standard as it is the people
criticizing both saint and sinner that are the hypocrites. It is not what you
put in your mouth that corrupts but rather what comes out. are you lifting
people up with your words or are you tearing them down. Are you giving yourself
life giving words of affirmation or are you delivering to yourself death from
your own tongue. Your words contain the means of life and death. be careful of
what you say to others as well as how you speak to yourself. We are not to be
conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our minds. This world
is quick to judge and condemn. In Christ Jesus there is therefore no
condemnation. So give yourself and others a break this week and rather then
quickly being critical and judgmental be encouraging and loving.
The next attitude displayed in our story is the "I can do it by myself" attitude. I do not need anybody or anything. I am a rock, I am an island. It is so sad when we get into this attitude. This is where depression sets in. This is where despair can overtake us and this is where we find ourselves all alone and wonder why. When it was us that pushed everybody away. It is good to want to better yourself but when we do it on our own we end up going two steps forward then 10 steps back. Pride turns into embarrassment, embarrassment turns into self doubt and the whole thing spirals downward until there seems to be no way out. There is a better way. There is a way home. There is a way to abundant living today. and it all beings with having a Kingdom attitude. A kingdom attitude does not give up, but waits expectantly. A kingdom attitude does not get critical but rather promotes and encourages others in the hope of bright tomorrow. Hope in tomorrow brings light into today. a kingdom attitude does not go alone but joins together with others to make all stronger in the Lord. Simply by changing our attitude we can change our life. Paul changed his attitude towards the thorn that he had in the flesh and rather then complaining and moping around about constantly crying out loud about his problems he began to praise God in his affliction and changed the world. God will give you the strength you need to overcome any and every trial. The difference in the outcome will depend on the attitude you assume in the midst of it.
No matter what you are going through today I want you to know that God is able to see you through it and His word is true when it says that "all things are even now working together for the good to those who love and put their trust in Him." Have you put your trust in Him today? Have you asked Jesus to take center stage in your life? Turn your thorn over to Him and let Him turn your pain into a lasting victory. For when we finally admit that we are weak and give our lives over to Him then His strength becomes strong in our lives and we finally experience that abundant living in Christ Jesus our Lord.