I love reading the books of the Bible of written by the great Apostle Paul. He led such an anointed, fascinating life, one fraught with many troubles, trials and tribulations yet he lived with great joy in his evangelism and anticipation of the end. I’ve never read of another individual who anticipated death with such excitement.
Evidently, the Lord Jesus Christ knew that with the great spiritual gifts He had bestowed upon Paul, the man would have a tendency to become conceited, self-centered and dictatorial. In order to keep Paul humble while he fulfilled the great mission of carrying the gospel to the Gentiles we read in 2 Corinthians 2:17:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”
I’ve read so many commentaries that stated Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was believed to be a physical infirmity. We do know that he had some type of physical issues and some have speculated that he walked with a limp, he had poor eyesight and that he was prone to epileptic seizures.
However, as I was reading Paul’s letters to young Timothy, I came across a little scripture that I believe explains Paul’s thorn in the flesh. In 2 Corinthians 2:17, Paul says that this thorn was a “messenger of Satan sent to buffet me.” I believe 2 Timothy 4:14 identifies Satan’s messenger.
“Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil; the Lord reward him according to his works.”
Have you ever had your own Alexander the coppersmith? I know I certainly have. I’ve had a few in my life and can name them by name, just as Paul. If you are trying to work for the Lord, you probably have had at least one. Someone who puts you down, embarrasses you, challenges you, belittles you, gossips about you, tries everything in their power to discourage you and thwart you from the calling God has placed upon your life. The individual has allowed the spirit of jealousy to enter and take up residence. And we all know what happens when we allow one of Satan’s henchmen to come through the door of our hearts, he brings seven of his evil buddies with him as we read in Matthew 12:43-45:
“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
I’m willing to bet that Alexander had many more issues than simple jealousy of Paul.
If you take a long, hard look at your own Alexander the coppersmith, you might be able to identify some of the Spirit of Jealousy’s hateful buddies and the Spirits of Pride, Sarcasm and Gossip are usually right out there front and center. Just open your eyes, you will be able to spot them as they manifest themselves one by one.
Despite Alexander’s attacks, Paul remained steadfast in his call. God provided friends for Paul. Friends who would never let him down and remain loyal, prayerful and interceding to God on Paul’s behalf.
“Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” 2 Corinthians 7:6
“I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Forunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours.” 1 Corinthians 16:17-18
When your Alexander comes calling and you are feeling defeated, look to your own Titus, Stephanus, Fortunatus and Achaicus.
And consider the words of James, the brother of our Lord:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2
May you be richly blessed today, my friends! If I don’t meet you here, I hope to meet you over there!