The Spy Who Turned Me
A few years ago there was an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about how a CIA agent recruits “assets” who will soon become traitors and spy on their country. One of the things that is preyed upon is people’s ego. If you can find a way to boost their egos, they’re more likely to betray their country and divulge its secrets.
There was an instance in which a CIA agent told his asset that the tidbits of information he had given him had gone directly to Jimmy Carter in the White House. This stroked his ego sufficiently so that he was more than willing to divulge many more classified documents.
They say that the downside of appealing to the ego is that “once the stroking starts, you cannot stop: he will be needy, moody, demanding.” We should all think about that statement because there are times when we live to get our egos enlarged. As great as it is to get our egos stroked, who wants to live life as a needy, moody and demanding person?
I think that’s why the Apostle Paul speaks of the significance of the “thorn in his flesh,” that thing that reminded him that he has limitations and weaknesses. Recognition of our own limitations keep us grounded and compassionate towards others’ limitations and weaknesses.
For Paul, there was also a spiritual significance. He came to realize that God can work through his weaknesses and beyond his limitations. The same can be true for us, so rather than try to deny we have limitations, perhaps we need to embrace them. It grounds us and opens us up to a God who transcends our limitations.