7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12: 7-10
Paul was a man on a mission. A HUGE mission. He was the ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’: which is not a bad title to put on your business card. You could understand him being at risk of getting a rather big head about being THE Apostle to the Gentiles and writing two thirds of the New Testament. Especially being the educated and naturally gifted person he was.
Which creates a dilemma for Paul and also for God. Any real change in peoples lives can only be affected by the Holy Spirit through a work of grace. And grace is always unmerited. You certainly can’t be saved by grace and at the same time believe that you have worked or earned it. It’s the same for all other gifts and blessings of God, including operating in the power of God, as Paul would have to, to fulfill his ministry. (Galatians 3:1-6)
If the Apostle Paul were to get a big head, it would pretty much eliminate him from being effective. The irony of grace is, to qualify for it, you have to know that you don’t qualify for it! God, in His wisdom, knew that Paul would need to rely on the power of God to fulfill his ministry. The power of God is only available to us through grace. Paul learned the lesson:
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.‘ 2 Cor 12: 9-10 NKJV