How Paul Loved God with All His Mind

Emotions.  We all have them.  Men and women alike. Stereotypically women are “more emotional.” Are we?  And men?  They are known as the gender that doesn’t share their emotions.  Is that really true?

What seems to be lacking in both stereotypes is how we MANAGE our emotions.  Women, we must admit, we DO tend to wear our hearts on our sleeve.  Emotional self- control is more difficult for us.  And often times we use our emotions to manipulate those around us.  Men are more characterized by keeping their feelings bound up inside, bound so tightly at times that they are accused of having no feelings at all.  Again, it’s how they MANAGE those emotions, because they are most definitely there.

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As I studied Lesson 10 in Loving God With All Your Mind by Elizabeth George, I was brought face to face with the many emotions of the Apostle Paul.  Sure, I realized that he had difficulties.  This is one of those instances where we read words on a page but fail to  FEEL them, or to SEE what God has for us in them.  Elizabeth included MANY verses from Paul’s letters to the Corinthians in the study and I must admit, I was totally overwhelmed when I allowed myself to be affected by his words.  Most of us would have crumpled under just one or two of the things he suffered.  Yet Paul persevered.

Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.  2 Corinthians 11: 23-33

Are you kidding me?  And we think we are in crisis when we are misunderstood by those who we once considered friends.  I take that back.  That statement sounds like I don’t believe those things cause us pain.  They do.  They most CERTAINLY do.  But do we have our struggles in the proper perspective?

Paul was a powerful man of God.  We can learn so much from his example.  Even being such a strong man, He was not afraid to share his emotions with others.

stack of old antique papers and treasure mapFor we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed–beyond our strength–so that we even despaired of life.                           2 Corinthians 1:8

But amidst the pain he experienced, pain that made him feel as if he could not go on living, he CHOSE to focus on the TRUTH.  Yes, he was dealing with unimaginable suffering, but God was THERE; God was his STRENGTH.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed... (2 Corinthians 4: 9-10)

Not only did Paul experience the situations I mentioned above, and more, he also dealt with an ongoing physical ailment that made life more troublesome on a daily basis.  We aren’t told what his “thorn in the flesh” was; perhaps that is so we can relate to his situation more easily.  We often ask God “WHY.” According to Paul, he knew why he was dealing with it.  I have included the entire paragraph so you can see the context of Paul’s words.

I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10 ESV)

 Paul loved to boast!  But we all know it is far more commonplace for us to boast about ourselves.  Paul knew that as well.  His thorn in the flesh, however, humbled him on a daily basis.  It caused him to seek God consistently for the grace he needed to cope, lest he would think he could get by on his own fortitude each day.

Paul is a wonderful example to us of how to follow Matthew 6:34.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 ESV)

Paul had learned not to get caught up in past suffering; that was clear.  He did not allow himself to speculate about what might happen to him tomorrow, or the next day.  He had enough to deal with TODAY.  His thorn in the flesh kept him on his face before God, to obtain the measure of strength he needed for that day and that day alone.  He did not hide from his feelings.  They were surely part of his daily struggle.  He shared his sufferings with those he loved and who he knew would be bringing his needs before the throne of his Father in heaven.  There was no place for pridefully pretending that he had it all under control.  “I got this,” was not who he was.  For Paul it was, “GOD’S got this!”

grace sufficientWriting this post has humbled me like no other.  I am without excuse.  The things we complain about sadden my heart.  How can I look at the life of Paul and think I have a difficult life.  Yes, I realize that my issues are still difficult, but if God was sufficient for Paul, he is certainly sufficient for me!

What about you?  How is this study changing you?

2 thoughts on “How Paul Loved God with All His Mind

    • I know, right? And yet, Paul tells them, in addition to all these things I’m going through, I am daily concerned for YOU, the church. The constant communion he had with God must have been truly amazing. There is no other way he would have been able to endure. We allow so much to interfere with our walk with the Lord. So very convicting!

      Thanks for commenting, Lisa!

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