Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Let’s be honest. We all have vices. Each of us has something that is the thorn in our sides, something that torments and tempts us. For some, it’s pretty painful. And for others, it may not even register at all. Either way, a vice is something that causes us to stumble.
I used to think that there might be different levels of vices. Maybe speeding wasn’t necessarily as bad as having one too many drinks every Saturday night. Or perhaps polishing off most of a half gallon of Jamocha Almond Fudge by oneself wasn’t even close to the same league of say, lying or gossiping.
But you know what? The bottom line is, a vice causes us to stumble. And when we stumble, we sin. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary says a vice is “moral depravity or corruption.” “Wickedness” or a “habitual defect or shortcoming.”
Most of us will struggle with a particular vice for the rest of our lives. In fact, many of us can point to the same vice affecting several generations throughout our family lines. And so we ask God to change our ways and to break these “generational curses” going forward.
But sometimes, I think we might also thank God for allowing us to struggle. Celebrate our weakness. And say, “Viva la vice!”
Why is that? In a roundabout way, our vices can ultimately be good for us as they bring us to our knees. And when we’re on our knees, we can only look up with outstretched arms and cry out “Help me, Lord!” as we ask Him to work mightily and powerfully through us.
The Apostle Paul had a vice in his life, too. In 2 Corinthians 12: 7, he called it a “thorn in his flesh.” We don’t know for sure if this was a physical ailment or something else that tempted him and caused him to stumble. But whatever it was, it propelled him to call upon the Lord:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Like Paul, we all have something that can keep us grounded and keep the focus off of ourselves and our “ministry,” if you will. A “thorn in the flesh” or a vice, is troublesome and painful, yes. But it does keep our eyes on the Lord and reminds us daily that, despite this weakness and the suffering and stumbling it causes, it is an opportunity for God to work through us to accomplish great things.
And in that, I think we can all certainly boast!
A little homework ...
When was the last time you wrote down your vices? Sometimes seeing something in writing makes it more real in our hearts and in our minds. Make a list and ask God to help you in your weaknesses, so that His power may be made known in your life.