By Robert Halsey Pine
“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Corinthians 11:21b-33 NRSV).
Was Paul willing to testify against himself? I guess that some Christian testimony and witnessing is just that. It’s telling a story about one’s self that shows a weakness and how God has redeemed that thing. We can’t plead the Fifth Amendment if we’re going to share in meaningful ways as Christians. We must declare the gospel, take it on and show how it can act in our weaknesses.
When I was in grade school we read a novel that our teacher summed up for us after several class discussions. I can’t recall the name of the novel, but I’ll always remember my teacher’s thought on its general theme. It is, she said, “A cloistered virtue is worthless.” That until we are tested, we really can claim no virtue. Until that seemingly great thing about us is under fire, we cannot boast.
When an apparent virtue gets tested, we usually don’t come out looking so good. That’s why there are so many good witnesses out there. Just think how boring it would be if we all maintained our virtuousness. I’ve heard some say that Adam and Eve’s trouble in the Garden has made life more interesting. And Paul used his weaknesses to God’s advantage as he helped form the early Church, and is helping to guide us even today.
The key, as Paul tells us, is that we don’t lie. If we tell the truth, then God will redeem our transgressions and we will learn. And as many Christian witnesses do, we can boast as Paul did, of our weaknesses while proclaiming the gospel to help build up the Body of Christ.
Father God, I pray that unlike the Pharisees, I may come before You and before my brothers and sisters in Christ, acknowledging my weaknesses and turning them over to You for Your redemption. I know that if I come to You in honesty and dedication to You, You will use my weaknesses for Your good. In Christ’s name I pray. AMEN.
Robert Halsey Pine was born in Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.