Tuesday, November 17, 2015

He makes me strong

Life conditions us to be as strong as we can be.  This is obvious in our physical bodies as we grow and develop to maturity.  The competitive nature of athletic events brings about stronger bodies, better conditioned  to perform athletic skills.  We aren't accustomed to seeing very many 5-ft. tall basketball players in the NBA.  Likewise we won't see a 100 pound running back for the Green Bay Packers.   We expect the athletes to be strong and conditioned, and that is the only way they can be winners. 

We who are in the church of the Lord also develop this mentality when it comes to growing into "stronger Christians."  This is seen in our churches when we seek a stronger prayer-life, a more intense evangelistic outreach, or a more devoted approach to keeping our Bible reading schedules.  Even in spiritual matters we strive to be conditioned and strong to face our tasks. 

With the idea of strength and always growing stronger for God, comes some scriptural references that will cause us to stop and think. 

Philippians 3:4-6 - "though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." (That's quite a spiritual resume!)

Yet Paul, in his ministry of evangelistic travels, was reminded of his weaknesses when he confesses in Romans 7: 14-15   "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Such a different story.)

The grand old Apostle, claiming his spiritual accomplishments in one place, yet recognizing his sinfulness in another place.  His writings also reveal his own descriptions of himself as "the least of the saints," or "a prisoner of the law of sin."

If any of that sounds like your attempts at being more spiritual or a stronger Christian, look to Paul who learned one more lesson.  2 Corinthians 12:9-11  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Try as hard as you may, to become stronger and stronger.  You will learn, like Paul, you will only become strong when you realize how weak you are.  Then we are able to understand demonstrating the Christian's faithfulness is not dependent on how strong we are, but that our dependence is in our strong God. 

Our self-sufficiency in spiritual matters needs to be destroyed and replaced with a faith in God that proves we are  the strongest, in our weakness. And so we sing, "I am weak but thou art strong...."


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