Gladness on the Gallows – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Consider this list of situations you could experience in life:

  • A situation that you have failed to solve or correct
  • An incurable illness or physical ailment
  • Personal relationships that have been permanently frayed
  • Genuine possibility of losing your job because of evil motives

Now, how will having a nice new home, the latest model vehicle, or money in the bank really help you with and through any of those situations? They won’t!

At the time Paul wrote the Corinthians this epistle, the church there was divided and troubled. He testified of experiencing an “incurable” physical ailment. The pressures of other churches were constantly weighing on his mind. Wherever he went to preach the gospel hostile Jews harried and hounded him.

Yet, in roughly 10 years from the writing of this letter he will be on the gallows and exclaim, “I have fought the good fight…to Him be the glory forever and ever…grace be with you.”

How in the world can anyone be content in such situations? Only through grace can you be glad on the gallows. How can God’s grace help you in the worst situations and thus any situation?

Rely Solely on God’s Grace, 12:9a

You need to see two essential characteristics of God’s grace from Paul’s testimony here. First, Christ’s grace is supernatural help. Paul relates the predicament he experienced in 12:7 – a thorn in the flesh – and his prayer that received this answer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

God’s help appeared to Paul in his circumstances and situation. Grace is God’s kindness to mankind and it is supernatural, above and beyond this sphere of existence.

Second, you must rely on God’s grace because it is sufficient help. How many of us would have wanted to hear the answer to Paul’s prayer that he did? What would your response really have been? It is a sad fact that many evangelicals deny in practice the sufficiency of God’s grace. The idea is that grace is good enough for surface issues, but for really tough problems you need psychology, therapy, or something else. Have we forgotten that we’re talking about God here???

God’s grace is sufficient to help you through any situation or experience. The problem, more often than not, is not with the grace, but with us! In addition to relying solely on Christ’s grace, you must

Rejoice in Trials through God’s Grace, 12:9b

This is a tough one. Rejoice in trials??? There are two reasons why you should. First, rejoicing in trials is the right thing to do. Probably one of the last things you would think of doing is “boasting” about life-threatening or disturbing problems. This doesn’t mean that you find difficult circumstances enjoyable in and of themselves. Rather, you see them as an opportunity for God’s grace to be shown, displayed, and magnified.

Remember James’ words: “consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (1:2-3). Do you rejoice in trials? It is the right thing to do, because this is one of God’s means of making you stronger in Him and more dependent on Him.

Second, rejoicing in trials brings Christ’s power. Christ said to Paul, “power is perfected in weakness.” The weaker – less dependent on self – that Christ’s people are, the more conspicuous is His strength in sustaining them.

The idea of Christ’s power dwelling in you is that of taking up residence. This indwelling power is the result of the Spirit strengthening you in your inner man, giving you the needed strength to patiently endure any circumstance and joyfully thank God for that circumstance because it resulted in the magnification of His grace and glory.

Christian, this is a hard lesson to learn, but it is one that brings rich blessings: it is when you are out of answers, confidence, and strength, with nowhere else to turn but to God that you are in a position to be strengthened by the Lord.

No one in Christ’s body is too weak to experience God’s power, but many are too confident in their own strength. Lastly, for God’s grace to help you, you must

Recognize the Truth of God’s Grace, 12:10

Christ’s grace exists in any circumstance. What would you think of the list of troubles in this verse?? Having a right view of trials and suffering is essential for Christian living. Focusing all your efforts on removing difficulties is not the answer.

You must embrace the trials God allows you to undergo, knowing that it is through them that God helps you see your character, humbles you, draws you closer to Him, and shows His grace and power in your life.

Christ’s grace enables contentment in any circumstance. There really is no human explanation for Paul saying “I am well content” in any of these situations. It is important to note that Paul’s attitude and actions were not controlled by the situation – he was controlled by Christ.

Christian, when you rely on Christ’s grace, rejoice in Christ’s grace, and then reckon Christ’s grace to your circumstance, He enables you to have contentment in any circumstance.

It is only through grace that you can be glad on the gallows!

Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, July 8, 2007