There’s Always A Thorn
II Cor. 12:7
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure”.
We may never know in this life what the thorn was in apostle Paul’s life, but by God’s Word we know it was there. We also know, by this scripture, why it was given to Paul. We also know who allowed it, God, and where it was from, Satan. We also know from the record of God’s Word that Paul prayed “thrice” for the thorn to be removed. However, God chose for him to beware it, II Cor. 12:8.
We find in scripture two distinct differences between spiritual thorns, outside the body and inside the body. This is only a brief overview of the many types of “thorns” that afflict Christians. They all afflict the body, mind, and spirit. We know from Matt. 13:22 that there are thorns in the world always. We can, by trusting God’s Word, make them less of a problem and we can gain benefit in the form of spiritual strength. In Matt. 13 we can logically determine that God doesn’t want us to receive spiritual food among thorns else it becomes of none effect. In other words, don’t hang out in a patch of thorns, speaking outside the body. We are commanded to “come out from among them”, II Cor. 6:17. So we find in scripture that thorns are not usually something we associate with good. However, in Paul’s case God allows a thorn to keep his mind on the things of the Lord.
We find the first mention of thorns in Genesis 3:18. Here God is speaking of the physical thorns that will infest the earth and be a problem for Adam and all who comes after him. Just as it was for Adam, so it is for the Christian who goes forth to sow. Here read Matt. 13:3-8. In this passage we see the sower casting seed everywhere. Here we see that one quarter of the sowers seed will fall “among thorns” and will be choked and become unfruitful. The Christian who is among thorns, unless put there by God’s will, WILL become unfruitful. I see many churches of today have fallen for “another gospel”, and are among thorns. See here Galatians 1:6-7. It’s my thought also that the Christian sower is to continue on the move constantly “sowing” out God’s Word.
So, take heart Christian and sow the word of God everywhere knowing that God says that when you do that, one quarter will also fall on “good ground”. Do you think that if the sower could discern the good ground from the bad, wouldn’t he only sow seed in the good ground? Of course! That is certainly my thought. It’s God that gives the increase, I Corinthians 3:6-7. Nowhere here, Matthew 13, does God’s Word say we are to prepare the ground. The field mentioned later in Matthew 13:24 concerns tares and is this man’s, the Lord, field. Notice verse 24, “his field”. It’s my thought that this applies to a pastor, servant. Whereas earlier it applies to the evangelist, just my thoughts. Both however are sowers. It’s the Holy Ghost that prepares the heart of man, ground. Here consider John 12:32 and also John 6:44.
I once heard of a pastor who told of one of his previous members that he/she was a grievous thorn. This person was inherited when the pastor took the church. Nothing seemed to satisfy this member. The pastor was always in scripture trying to show the “thorn” the truth and spending much more time in prayer and the Bible. Not till the “thorn” moved on did the pastor realize how much God had used that experience in his life to help strengthen him. I Thes. 3:3 tells us we are “appointed thereunto” affliction, thorns.
So Christian friends, it’s a given that thorns will be in our lives according to scripture and some will cause us grief. So how do we identify the thorn? First, we know by experience that a thorn by it’s nature is sharp and will prick the skin. We also know by searching the scripture that the thorn will have a choking effect on God’s Word. We also know it will be growing with other thorns, Matthew 13. Thorn is plural here.
What is a Christian to do when they find themselves among thorns or with a physical thorn? Well I’m glad you asked. Let’s see what Paul did about a personal thorn that affected his flesh. First and foremost, Paul acknowledges he has a thorn. Then he prays. We know from this passage of scripture that God heard his prayer because he received an answer. Then he tells other believers of this thorn and how it will actually give him strength, spiritual, and benefit himself and others.
Now we will consider the thorn mentioned in the first part of Matthew 13 and the wolf, a type of thorn in Acts 20:29. Both will destroy. What do we do when confronted with these thorns? First and foremost, we defend with the word of God. Then we pray and like Paul, let other trusted Christian friends pray. Notice what Jesus did in Matthew 4 when tempted by Satan. He used the word. So for the Son of God, so it is for you dear Christian. Never forget that a good soldier is never without a means of defense for himself or others around him. I’ve never seen a thorn or a wolf, speaking here of people, hang around very long where the word is being “rightly divided” and preached from the pulpit or in everyday life.
So if we allow God’s Word to work in our lives, we will know that we will have thorns, ……..always. If we let God’s Word admonish and rebuke the thorns instead of letting the thorns use us, God will help us grow and flourish in his word. Just like Paul and the above example of the pastor, if we will, we can get help and help others, amen.