In life, we have the tendency to shrink back from our dilemmas if we are not careful. What we really need is strength.
The old saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” That’s a great statement to put on social media or to write down somewhere, but living it out doesn’t always prove the easiest task to undertake. We need strength.
With all the issues and complications of life that come our way, we can easily get burned out, and find ourselves low on strength. Where once we were ready to meet any challenge, we can quickly feel the pressures of life squeezing the strength right out of us.
For the believer in Jesus Christ, strength is not something that we produce on our own. Believers understand that depending on yourself is a sure recipe for disaster. You and I need a strength that is resolute. We need a strength that will outlast the strategies of the enemy.
This strength is available. It is found, not in hardness of spirit, or in exercising our experience, but rather, the strength that stands the test of time is found through pursuing Jesus and laying aside our own abilities.
Your capacity for strength increases as you lay aside your own resourcefulness and begin to depend on the strength that God provides.
God gives strength that will stand the test of time. For some, this is a revolutionary idea because they are so accustomed to defending their self and trying to provide for their own needs.
If you want to truly be strong, you have to become weak.
This line of thought goes counter to the thinking that most people have. Most will do all they can to increase their ability, endurance, and power. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be the best you can be. Stewarding your life in the best possible way is the right thing to do, but oftentimes we learn to depend too much on our own resourcefulness in the process.
The Apostle Paul captures this idea best in a passage that, at first, speaks to things he could use as great spiritual accomplishments. He soon learns, however, that these experiences that seemed to him, so great, would actually hinder his strength if allowed to steal the focus.
2 Corinthians 12:1–10 NLTse
1 This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord.
2 I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows.
3 Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know
4 that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.
5 That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses.
6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message,
Paul is saying that, even though we might have strength, ability, or experiences of our own to draw from, these things are not the most important and certainly not the longest lasting. Your accomplishments might be great, and to speak of them may be true, but for the believer in Jesus, our accomplishments pale in comparison to what GOD CAN DO THROUGH US.
7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
There are many interpretation about what this “thorn” really is. That question, however, is NOT the focus of this post.
Notice instead Paul’s reaction to the thorn and God’s response.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.When you empty yourself of your own strength, that is the moment Jesus can fill you with his.Click To Tweet
When you empty yourself of your own strength, that is the moment Jesus can fill you with his.
The power of Christ works best through vessels that are devoted completely to holding the things of God.
When you release your grip, you can hold on with his grip.
When you release your ability, you can use his ability.
When you release your ideas, you can implement his ideas.
When you release your strength, you can have his strength.
10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This statement of Paul is one of the most countercultural statements in history. Humanity struggles to compete against itself, vying to win and not lose. People struggle to hold on to possessions, ideas, other people, and love; not realizing that everything they really want and need is found through letting go.
If Jesus controls your life…When you are weak, THEN you are strong.
Paul echoes the idea presented years earlier by John the Baptist, when he said…
John 3:30 NLTse
30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
Let me ask you a question: What is becoming greater in your life?
Whatever it is that is gaining greatness in your life, it is the very thing that is pushing everything else aside. If Jesus is becoming greater and greater in your life, he will push aside envy, strife, an unforgiving spirit, sin, pride, dependency on self, idolatry, adultery, and every other ideal or action that would seek to exalt itself.
Jesus won’t compete with other masters or other loves in your heart. He wants ALL or nothing.
Even Jesus said, “no man can serve two masters…”
The context of his statement dealt with money, but the principle behind it is relevant in any circumstance. You can only have ONE master at a time. So…Will the master of your life be YOU, your circumstances or GOD?
God provides strength that stands the test of time.
If you need strength because worry, doubt, and fear have sapped your resources…God has the strength you need. He will empower you to keep going.
God’s will is NOT for you to suffer burnout, lack of strength, inability to cope with the problems of life, or anything remotely similar. Rather, God’s desire is that you face the complexities of life with undeniable strength; strength that refuses to diminish in spite of the circumstance.
Are you becoming less and less?
I hope so. Because God’s strength is made perfect through weakness.
In fact, we cannot hope to win the battles we face in life through our own strength. The Bible tells us to do something completely different than relying on our self. The Bible instructs us to “Be Strong” in the Lord.
Ephesians 6:10 NLTse
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
The words, “be strong,” mean:
- To be rendered more capable or able for a task.
- To receive strength.
- Cause to be able.
In other words, this strength is something that comes from the OUTSIDE IN and not from the INSIDE OUT.
The predominant message these days is about inner strength and drawing upon what is inside of us, but Paul has a message that goes completely against not only his culture, but ours too.
Humanity has very little inherent strength. The strength we have is limited at best. If we allow him to, God will come into our life and FILL US with his strength.
He will cause us to become MORE than capable for the task at hand. The Lord renders us able to stand, and makes us receive strength that we could never attain on our own.
In fact, the Bible says…
Romans 8:37 NKJV
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
In Jesus Christ, you are not just a conqueror. You are MORE than a conqueror.
This simple phrase means something amazing. When you are MORE than a conqueror, endued with strength that comes from the Lord, it means that you will prevail completely. You will defeat your enemies BEYOND what is normal.
The strength to decimate your circumstances and destroy your dilemmas can only come when you lay aside your own strength and become weak, but when YOU are weak, HE is strong.
The reason you and I can be strong is simple: God is strong.
When the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, he will strengthen you. You only have strength to the degree that you allow Jesus to own your life.
Listen to this scripture.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV
6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
This scripture again shows us something amazing in the words, “be strong.” They literally mean to be made strong. Referring to a strength that comes INTO your life from an OUTSIDE source. It speaks of a strength beyond what is average and beyond what is expected.
Let me encourage you…
The next time the devil tries to attack you, let go of your OWN STRENGTH and become strong IN the Lord. You’ll be able to stand your ground and defeat the devil with a strength BEYOND anything he expected.
Today is the day to keep pressing, and keep going. Don’t give up, but instead empty yourself so that God can fill you.
Here are the enemies that stand against God’s strength in your life:
Galatians 5:19–21 NLTse
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,
20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,
21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
These things are enemies to the strength of God flowing in your life, but so is pride, arrogance, and filthy communication.
Here’s what the Bible says:
Proverbs 8:13 NLTse
13 All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech.
Galatians 5:24 NLTse
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
Have you nailed your desires to the cross yet? Have you nailed your ability, strength, and power to his cross and left them there?
What do you need to empty from your life, so that God can fill you with his strength?