Glorified In All Things
We are repeatedly instructed in the Word that our objective should be the glory of God. Both Peter and Paul gave likeminded advice about this highly regarded subject. Apostle Paul asked a question, "What hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (I Corinthians 4:7). Apostle Peter furthered this line of thought. He wrote, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11). The glory of ability. None of us would deny that David was an outstandingly gifted musician. His creative powers seemed to defy all limitations. He is also referred to in the Bible as the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (II Samuel 23:1). But all of his songs and poems were composed for one purpose: to honor the creator who had blessed David with such musical genius. He used his ability for the glory of God. During the leadership of Moses, God endowed a unique individual with wisdom to build and design. Clearly, Bezaleel had cunning and skill that was astounding. His giftedness was the reason the Tabernacle contained such beauty and incredible furnishings. Notice what God said about him. He told Moses, "And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship" (Exodus 31:3-5). Every single detail etched, carved, or fashioned by Bezaleel and his work crew was for the glory of God. If God provides an open door for you to be blessed financially, make sure He receives all the praise. If He has given you the ability to reach a high level of excellence in your chosen vocation, give God the glory. If you are considered to be a success, be sure to tell folks who made you succeed. If you are creative, or are blessed with people skills, or have keen business sense, please don't fail to let everyone know that God is the only one who is worth bragging on. The glory of infirmity. On the other hand, you should give God just as much glory when your world has turned upside down. You should be consistent in praise while you are surviving sickness, rejection, or downsizing. God is still worthy of worship in a hospital stay, a pay decrease, or the worst family trouble you have ever experienced. Peter carries this idea further, saying, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (I Peter 4:12). Understand, he has warned us of the pitfalls with regard to the glory of ability. Now he introduces us to the glory of infirmity. And even though to some extent, we each exercise a degree of ability, God is the only one who is to get the glory. But God also works just as powerfully in the glory of infirmity. Back to Paul. There were times he listed his impeccable resume. He made it clear where he stood among the prestigious Jewish leaders of the day. He had compiled an educational pedigree second to none. His hometown of Tarsus was like a huge gated community, only the wealthy could live there. He also came from an impressive bloodline, a family heritage that had the potential to provoke envy and resentment. But he wrote these words, "If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities" (II Corinthian's 11:30). Infirmities are the issues that cause us pain. They are the things that have hurt us. Paul then begins to describe his profound revelations. He explains a spectacular experience he once had – an extraordinary spiritual event that allowed him to gain access to the third heaven. But don't get too impressed. And please don't get stuck there. He has simply had to detail this incredible revelation to make sense of where he takes us next, his thorn. There have been various suggestions as to what this "thorn in the flesh" actually was. But it really doesn't matter because Paul doesn't tell us. All we know is it hurt. It caused him so much pain, in fact, that he asked God to remove it. We should remember, if anybody could get a prayer answered, it was Paul. There was a time when he was preaching that he noticed a lame man who gave every indication that he had faith to be healed. Paul paused in his preaching long enough to speak to the man, have him stand up, and ministered the word of healing to him. Another time, Paul became a bit long-winded in his preaching, a man named Eutychus fell asleep. That shouldn't have been much of a problem, except he was sitting in a window. In his drowsy state, he fell from an upper chamber and died on impact. Paul's prayer raised him from the dead immediately. Thankfully, he never once said, "That's what you get for going to sleep while I was preaching!" Don't tell me God didn't answer when Paul prayed. But there is a prayer recorded for us in scripture that, this time, God responded in a strange way to Paul's request. There was no shaking of the building by the power of God. There was no display of miracles, signs, and wonders. There was no audible promise that God was planning to destroy whoever and whatever was causing the trouble. Just a simple statement from God. He responded with these words, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9). As far as we know, that is all God said. That must have been a momentous occasion in Paul's life. That was enough to cause him to put a small addendum on the end of what God said. Paul's reply was "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (II Corinthians 12:9). I am convinced that the thorn was just as valuable as was the revelation he received. He never received permission to describe all the intricate details of the third heaven he visited, but he gave us enough information about the thorn to be extremely beneficial for us all. Your abundance of revelation may or may not minister to me, but how you deal with your thorn does! Sometimes, knowing you have been privileged to hear unspeakable things, not lawful for a man to utter – that really doesn't encourage me in my walk with God. But the fact that you have something that you are asking God to take away – that does help me! I often feel that I've spent more time with the thorn then I have with the third heaven. If you are willing to tell me about all the miracles, please tell me about the times you've had your face in the carpet and wept until you had no more tears. I love to hear about how God came through just in time, but don't leave out the part of your story when you wondered whether you were going to survive. Paul seems to be saying, "The portion of my story that I emphasize is when I didn't have the strength in myself, God had to provide it for me – I glory in that!" Peter agreed that we should have the same outlook. He wrote, "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (I Peter 4:13). You see suffering, but God sees glory! The disciples questioned Jesus about a blind man. They wanted to know who exactly was to blame for his unfortunate condition. Who was responsible for his lack of sight? No doubt they were surprised at his reply. The Bible says, "Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:3). The blind man was healed a short time later. Even the most undesirable situations in our lives can result in God receiving glory!