Sufficiency of Grace
F. O. Mullender, Lowestoft
2 CORINTHIANS 12
Paul's unique experience in being caught up into paradise to the third heaven, and the unutterable wonder of it all, led (the flesh being what it is in all of us) to the apostle being given a thorn by Satan. This was permitted by God, to keep Paul from boasting of this unique favour. He asked the Lord thrice that the thorn might depart from him, but the Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness", 2 Cor. 12. 7-9. Whereupon the Lord's gifted servant gladly boasted in his weakness, that the power of Christ might rest upon him.
There is a pathway of grace, and this may be seen in the river in Ezekiel 47. 1-12. To begin with, the "waters were to the ancles", v. 3, indicating the initial stage of grace in a believer's life: "Thy sins are forgiven ... go in peace", Luke 7. 48, 50, Then we need the grace of continuance; Paul besought the Lord and grace was given so that he could press on in service, "the waters were to the knees". Finally, the journey has grace as its end. Peter the apostle of hope writes, "gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ", 1 Pet. 1. 13. Having believed on the Lord and having received of His grace, there is more to follow: "that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus", Eph. 2. 7. This answers to the fulness of the river: "waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over", Ezek. 47. 5.
These who walk in these steps of grace will have their detractors. Paul's detractors are described as "chiefest (or super-eminent) apostles", himself being nothing, 2 Cor. 12. 11. He was not a burden to them, but would rather gladly spend and be spent for them. Moreover, Titus took no advantage of them, so Paul added, "walked we not in the same steps?", v. 18. These steps were steps of dignity and discipline. The step of disappointment is found in John 5. 7, "another steppeth down before me". The step of decision is found in Romans 4. 12, "walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham". Finally, we have the steps of devotion in 1 Peter 2. 21, "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps".