Embracing Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9, grace, weaknessIs it ok to be weak?  And if so, is it ok if we are perceived as weak by those watching us?  It is something that has been on my mind lately and while I don’t have all of the answers I do believe that God’s Word has some things to say about the idea of weakness.

Before we look to God’s Word I think it is important that we define weakness.  For the purposes of this blog post weakness will be defined as “unable to accomplish something or not having the necessary resources to do something in our own strength or under or own power”.  Think of an old-fashioned steam locomotive travelling up a long incline and not having enough fuel (coal, wood or oil, generally)  to reach the top.  The train slows and then is at risk of stopping and going backwards unless more fuel is found to power up the steam engine.

With that definition in mind, let’s ask our original question again:  Is it ok to be weak and is it ok if we are perceived as weak by those who are watching us?  The answer is absolutely yes, on both accounts!

Why is this?  Because despite what the world and society tells us, self-sufficiency is a lie.  In the temporal realm even the strongest of us is vulnerable to disease, to injury, to mental and physical deterioration and eventually, to death.  Spiritually speaking, without divine intervention, we are in even worse shape.  Because of Sin we are all born spiritually dead and without the washing and regeneration provided by the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation we are all bound for eternal separation from God in a place called Hell.  In other words, to rely completely on self in this life is to face death alone while headed straight for Hell.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anything worse than that!

Perhaps we need to rephrase our original question at this point.  Based on this discussion it would seem that in actuality, everyone is weak but some do not choose to acknowledge it and in fact do everything in their power to hide it.  Maybe what we should be asking is, “Is it ok for me to acknowledge my weakness and to not try to hide it or pretend like it doesn’t exist?”  The answer is still “yes” but by rephrasing the question like this I believe we get a little bit closer to God’s truth about our self-sufficiency or lack thereof.

In the spiritual realm, unless we come to the place where we acknowledge our weakness and inability to save ourselves then we will never turn to God and ask Him for His salvation.  Once we’ve done that we can also begin to take God’s point of view about our physical bodies and mental capacity and see that no matter how physically fit or intelligent we might be, we are a long, long way from being perfect and from being like God intended us to be.

The Apostle Paul, looking as it his own condition stated: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)    Paul, who was responsible for writing most of what we call the New Testament and was a missionary to so many people in the early church was still able to realistically see himself for what he was; a sinner, saved by grace.  When he prayed to God about it the Lord answered Him and he recorded that answer in 2 Corinthians 2:9.  For Paul, his weakness was an opportunity for the power of Christ to show through him and so it is with us today.


I believe that anyone who spends any amount of time with us or who knows us on more than just a passing basis should see that we attribute our hope and strength to the Lord.  The people around us should know that our provision comes from God and that only by His grace are we able to stand.  Our own strength should not be what shows forth when people look on us from the outside and our attitude should be “less about me and more about Jesus”.

This is a difficult concept.  Making our lives about something other than ourselves is not in our nature.  Even when we get to the place where we acknowledge that we need a savior and begin to understand how utterly non self-sufficient we actually are it can be a long time before we begin to show forth Jesus to others.  If this is where you are right now then I would say to you don’t give up and don’t stop striving.  Spiritual maturity takes time and effort but comes with the absolute best reward possible; constant fellowship with the Heavenly Father who loves us so very much.

As for me, I’m still learning to embrace my weakness.  The various problems and trials that I face seem to be mystifying at times but they do keep me on my knees asking the Lord for deliverance and for strength. And if that’s what it takes for the power of Christ to rest upon me then so be it, let them come.

An Opportunity For Mercy

mercy, grace. ChristmasMy family deals with a local business for goods and services a couple of times a year.  We’ve enjoyed a mutually beneficial arrangement for many years now and we’ve gotten to the point where we are on a first name basis with most of the staff.  This business relationship has gotten more personal as we’ve gotten to know each other and my trust in them has grown as they have proven themselves over the years.

But now, for the first time, we’ve run into a problem.  The single largest order that I have ever made with them for a part seems to be stuck in limbo.  Because they are a successful business they are in the middle of an expansion project and it seems like during their office move some records got misplaced and no one is quite sure if my part has arrived or where it might be.

If this was just a simple order and pay for it later type of thing then it wouldn’t be a big deal.  But because of the special nature of the part and the customization it required we were required to pay up front at the time the order was placed.  We were told it would take around two weeks.  It has now been more than a month due to the complications with the move.

I spoke with someone in the office recently and it seemed like the move and expansion was still under way.  And because it is now the end of the year and the Holidays are upon us, it may be sometime after the first of the year before they are able to deliver the part.  What should have taken two weeks will probably end up taking over two months.

I’ve been tempted to complain to the owner and make a bit of a fuss.  As a consumer it would be within my rights to do so.  But as soon as I had the urge a thought popped in to my head.  The thought was “well, here’s an opportunity for mercy”.  I can assure you this thought did not originate in my flesh.  My flesh knows only selfishness and the concepts of grace and mercy can only come from the Father through the Spirit.

Despite the fact that I could claim my right to ask for my money back or take my business elsewhere or even complain in any number of different ways the Holy Spirit has prompted me not to do so and to be patient.  And in doing so, I am reminded of what God did for me and for all mankind.  I am reminded that we celebrate Christmas because God had an opportunity for mercy and sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins and be the savior of the world.  I am reminded that God is patient with us despite our failings and our weakness.

In the end, as a child of God, I choose to forfeit my rights in favor of the better, more perfect will of Him who died for me.  But even as I make that decision I know that there will be more opportunities for mercy in the days ahead and not just for me but for all of God’s children.  My prayer is that we set our flesh aside and choose the path of grace and mercy because in doing so we show forth the attributes of our Savior.


A Gift Not A Given

thankfulness, grace, GodI met a remarkable fellow this week.  In my job doing internet sales I come into contact with people from all over the world.  Mostly these are fleeting encounters that only take as long as a single phone call and are quickly forgotten.  This one man, however, I hope I will not soon forget.

I am confident that this meeting was ordained and orchestrated by God.  The reasons for the sale, both our product and his need aligned so perfectly that he flew half the length of the country to come and meet us face to face.  In addition there was a circumstance that required his presence in our state that was completely separate from the sale.  That this circumstance and his need for our product could have occurred at the same could only be considered providential.

As we were wrapping up and he was preparing to leave he shared with me a little bit about his other reason for visiting our state.  A younger relative of his who no longer had any parents or guardians around had gotten in to some trouble with the law and was incarcerated on some serious charges.  As a retired pastor and minister of the Lord he felt it was his responsibility to go and visit this relative and pray with them and give them whatever comfort and wisdom he could.

This man was now in charge of a large non-profit ministry that fed and assisted the homeless in several communities across the northern part of the country.  Based on his own past experience and the trouble that his relative was now in he made this statement:  “If you can work and provide for your family and put food on the table and keep a roof over your heard then that is a gift, not a given.  We are all equal in God’s sight but we do not all have equal abilities and are not all equally capable.  Some people just need more help than others.”  Although it went unspoken I could see in this man that he felt that he had been called to help the helpless and I thanked God for his witness.

Later in the day I thought about my job and my home and all that God has provided me and I realized that I tend to take it for granted.  I don’t thank God enough for giving me the ability to work and a place to work.  As I look back on my forty years I realize that I have worked for over half of it and I have never had difficulty finding a job when I needed one.  God has always been there, looking out for me and making a way for me.  He has provided for my family and even in lean times we have always had enough.

When you really get down to it, God does not owe me or anyone else anything at all.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory and God would be well within his rights to turn His back on us and leave us to our own devices.  Yet His love and grace is persistent and His mercy is new every morning and He delights in giving His children good gifts.  Woe to me if I begin to think that I am owed God’s provision or that I deserve what He so generously offers.

My prayer is that God would open the eyes of His children to see all that He has done for us and that we would not take any of it for granted.  I pray that He would keep us humble and help us to acknowledge Him in everything that we do.  God’s grace is given with every breath that we take.  Let us always remember that this is a gift, not a given.

Mercy The Beautiful

mercy, grace, offeringMercy.  What a beautiful word when heard and understood by the one who has sinned.  God’s mercy is completely inseparable from God’s grace and they can be thought of as two sides of the same coin.  Mercy is when we don’t get the punishment that we deserve and grace is when we are given favor that we have not earned.  So not only does God withhold sin’s terrible punishment he also blesses us with His favor and ultimately with His only Son, Jesus Christ the Savior of the World.  It is by grace through faith that we are saved and the opportunity for God’s grace to be shown is only because he first showed mercy on sinful man.

 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness..  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

God’s mercy never fails and never falters.  Were it not for His mercy this world and everything in it would be consumed and destroyed.  Not only does God’s mercy never fail it is also new and sufficient for each new day.  Whatever mistake or error we may find ourselves in, God’s mercy has provided for us a way back into fellowship with Him.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Mercy and grace are available from the Lord at all times and we are invited to come boldly before God in search of it.  God wants His people to trust and rely on Him completely and constantly.  There is never a time or a circumstance that can keep us from coming boldly before our Heavenly Father who loves us so much.  His invitation is open and He waits for us with arms wide open and angelic helpers ready to come to our aid if only we will ask.

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36)

Because we belong to God we are to imitate Him as His dear children.  And because He is merciful so to must we be merciful with those around us.  We must be merciful when we are wronged and we must forgive those who seek to harm us, be it physically, emotionally or financially.  God’s mercy is big enough to cover any sin that we lay at His feet and our mercy must be big enough to cover any sin that is done against us.

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

It is so important that we be merciful and forgiving that Jesus specifically said that we should be reconciled to our brother or sister before we make our next offering to God.  I believe this verse covers not only our monetary offerings but also our time and talents that we use for the Lord.  In other words we must do everything in our power to strive for unity among the brethren and take the initiative in making things right.  Only then will we be in a right place to serve the Lord with gladness and to receive His mercy with a clear conscience and a glad heart.

How To Live With A Curse

self, grace, submissionI am so glad that I accepted Christ as Savior while I was still a child.  I understood just enough to know that I needed Jesus to save my soul and that I wanted to be in Heaven one day with Him.  But it was a learning process of many years filled with a lot of rebellion before I completely yielded myself to Him as Lord.  I just didn’t understand how deep and how wide God’s love for me really was and until I came to the end of myself I didn’t know how badly I needed His grace.

Before God’s grace can be truly comprehended by us, we must be real with ourselves.  If we don’t see our sin for what it is then we will never understand our need for salvation nor will we grasp how good God really is.

Understanding is needed.  Wisdom is required.  A frank inspection of the self at the prompting of the Holy Spirit will help us see exactly who we are and why we desperately need the Lord.

This is a frightening process and I do not make light of it.  I think most of us realize that we have some flaws and make some mistakes but actually looking into our own souls and seeing the depth of the darkness there requires God’s help and more than a little courage.  And it usually doesn’t happen until we our faced with a crisis so overwhelming that we have no choice but to stop and ask ourselves “Why?”  “What am I?”  “What have I done?”

God will lead us to that place, as He did with me, where we truly are at the end of ourselves.  We will finally glimpse all that the self is capable of and how shallow and small it really is in comparison to our creator God.  Only when we are well and truly tired of “self” and want God more than anything else will He finally be able to pick up the mess that we have made and begin to form us into something beautiful.

In some way and at some time every person who truly desires to follow Christ must come to this point and go through exactly the same thing.  In my own life it is the absolute lowest point and the absolute highest mountain all at the same time.  What began as a broken and angry man was transformed into one who was humbled but full of peace about the present, hope for the future and a greater love for God than I have ever known.  God met me and showed me His grace contrasted against my sin and I, as long as I live, will never forget what that looked like.


The Everything from Nothing Exchange

grace, strength, God“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB)

The weakness of the flesh is always there.  On some days it is less apparent and we feel energetic and strong, like we could touch the sky.  On other days, it stands in our way and tries to block us at every turn, becoming a weight on our backs and pain in our bodies.

We don’t like being weak.  It makes us feel “less”.  We don’t like how it slows us down and holds us back.  “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” says the Good Book.  And yet we wish that it were not so.

From a personal perspective, I struggle with mental and physical exhaustion on a weekly basis.  I think “if I just had more time and energy, I could do so much more and be so much more!”  But I am starting to learn that this is not necessarily God’s way.  The way He works is somewhat different, and altogether better.

Hypothetically, let us say that we were granted with an endless supply of energy.  What could we accomplish and what we could we do?  Would we really be more effective and productive day to day or would we simply waste more time and make more mistakes due to our fallibility?  With unlimited energy would we depend on God more than we do now or less than we do now?

I think both you and I know the answer to that question, and so does the Lord.

Make no mistake, our weakness and fallibility is a direct result of our sinful condition and the fallen race that we belong to.  God does not intend for us to remain this way.  Even now, the process of redemption and reconciliation is being carried out in our spirits and one day soon, in our bodies.

But until that day, our weakness will remain.  And in our weakness God grants us a miracle.  God gives us His strength, His presence and His power.  Instead of struggling against our weakness and our limitations God wants us to glory in His might and in our dependence on Him.  It is when we realize that only He is pure and good and that our best efforts can never match what He offers that we finally surrender and let Him be God in our lives.

In our sin, He offers us grace.  In our weakness, He offers us strength.  And in our nothingness, he offers us everything.