In the Old Testament if a priest had an infirmity they could not function in their office as a priest. Even though they were created to and placed in a particular place to perform a particular duty, they were unable to fulfill the responsibility of that role because of the infirmity.
An animal that had an infirmity could not be used as a sacrifice, even when it had been set apart to be sacrificed to God, because the infirmity disqualified it from being able to fulfill the duties of the sacrifice.
An infirmity is something that is crippling. It is weakness, lack of strength, an inability to walk in power. In the New Testament this word was hardly ever used in a purely physical sense of the word. Instead it refers to mental crippling, a lack of moral strength, an inability to walk in emotional power and health.
Infirmities in themselves are not sins, but they do undermine our resistance to temptation and sin. Infirmities are qualities in human nature that may predispose or incline us to sin – sometimes without any conscious choice on our part. Emotional hangups, inner conflicts, pain, frustration, anxiety, depression, hurts, fear, abandonment, loneliness, isolation, rejection – these are infirmities – the things that cripple us from being what God created us to be. From walking in the power God created us to walk in on a daily basis.
2 Corinthians 11:30 says, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that reveal my infirmities.”
2 Corinthians 12:5 says, “I’ll brag about this person, but I won’t brag about myself unless it’s about my infirmities.”
Don’t misunderstand the power of what this scripture is describing. This scripture is not describing some sort of false humility where we manipulate people into petting our egos by telling them how worthless we are.
It is not describing a sense of powerlessness where we believe that we have no value because of a long tick list of things that we can point to in ourselves that make us unqualified to be what God has already called us.
It is not describing scenario where we come into agreement with people who have spoken curses and abusive words over us where they have called us worthless, stupid, incompetent, handicapped, rejected, unloved, or other things that go against what God has already specifically declared in His Word about us.
Rather, Paul is teaching us here how to walk in the power and confidence of God with our words. He is teaching us to come out of hiding and face the mental and emotional accusations that rise from within us openly and victoriously.
Understand that when you brag and boast about something there is a confident reason for the boast.
This is not a state of moaning and complaining. This is not a place of defeat. This is a place of victory.
We don’t talk about our weaknesses and infirmities from the perspective of them having power over us and invite people to join us in our pity party because satan is more powerful than God and our life is ruined because we are depressed and afraid and lonely and rejected.
This is the progressive walk of freedom. This is the cry of freedom that says, “I refuse to hide in this dark corner and rejoice in my weaknesses in a way that celebrates defeat. Instead I recognize that kingdom of God inside of me is under a violent attack and I choose to stand up and take by force the power of God’s grace over this infirmity that God has given me! I may be weak but HIS strength is made perfect in my weakness so I’m going to forget about my weakness and walk in His strength instead.”
The revealing of our weaknesses is what keeps us from falling backwards. The revealing of our weaknesses is what gives us the strength to continue to move forward. Because we don’t hide from the enemy. We call it out. We stand firm. We face the enemy head on. We say, “I’m afraid – but I’m moving on.”
I was so proud of one of the women I pastor the past week. I talked to her on the phone and she said, “I’m really afraid to tell you this but you said to stop being afraid and just tell you stuff so I’m join going to just say it.”
That’s how you get free.
That’s how you overcome these infirmities.
That’s how you come out darkness and walk in God’s marvelous light! You boast about things that reveal your infirmities and you just keep moving forward. Don’t let the infirmities stop you.