No one likes a braggart, no one.  Yet, they are not uncommon in our daily routine, no matter where we go.  They populate our schools, our businesses, our clubs and even our churches.

There is so much in life that is better left for others to say.  Yet, the desire by certain ones among us to announce their own feats and accomplishments is seemingly an unstoppable force.  Common among humanity is a social courtesy where we conclude that we silently agree that this expression is distasteful.

On the other hand, the Apostle Paul finds that this practice has at least one useful purpose.  As he fights to gain the attention of believers who are enamored with false teachers and “supeapostles” he reluctantly uses this approach of self-aggrandizement.   Yet, to be clear he calls the method foolishness.

Through this self-aggrandizement he reveals truth that is personal, solitary yet amazing.  He experienced a translation into heaven.  It was a moment in ecstasy that gives him a kind of spiritual qualification trumping every rival. 

Paul claims in this braggadocio mode that God alone knows the details although he himself only knows of the episode itself.  While the precise aspects of that epiphany are a mystery to him, he recalls the things he heard; but they are forbidden from being revealed to men.  The experience is worth bragging about only because it qualifies the Apostles’ credentials.

Personally, the Apostle turns his attention to his personal weaknesses.  He is determined not to pretend that he is something that he is not.  Rather, he sees his spiritual experiences as a privilege that give glory to God not him. 

This servant of God is more concerned that he avoid becoming conceited.  In this regard he knows that God has given him a thorn in his flesh, a physical reminder to keep himself humble.  Whether it is a painful physical ailment or a set of circumstances no one really knows; however, the effect is his lowliness in life.

As a humble man he is committed to the grace of God as his sufficiency. That mercy in his life is all he needs to be satisfied. Choosing humbleness is the path to genuine and lasting strength.

2 corinthians 12.1-10

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