Accept and boast of our weaknesses
We live in a world that teaches us to see our weaknesses as personal defects. We believe that if something is defective, we need to fix it. Therefore, we are kept on our toes trying to make up for our weaknesses. This causes unnecessary anxiety. Every weakness is an opportunity to experience God’s power and redemption in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:26 ESV Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
The world promotes the “pride of life”
This world attaches a lot of shame to being weak. People tend to apply labels such as “loser”, “good-for-nothing”, or “disgraceful” to anyone they see as weak. We are told that it is good to be smart, strong, and popular and to hold high positions, and that it is shameful to be seen as foolish, weak, and despised or to hold low positions.
Therefore, we feel the need to:
- Disguise or hide our weaknesses
- Compensate for our shortcomings
- Improve ourselves through self-help videos, books, and training courses
- or even lie about our weaknesses
But God’s Word shows us a completely different picture. In fact, the Bible warns us against falling for the lure of the “pride of life”, where we focus on building up the things we are strong in and can be proud of.
1 John 2:16-17 ESV For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
God’s power works best in weakness
God knows our human heart is prone to become proud and boastful. It is what led to the fall of mankind.
Proverbs 16:18 ESV Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Therefore, He deliberately chooses those whom the world labels as foolish, weak, low, and despised to shame the wise, strong, and respected, so that no one will be able to boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 ESV … But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world… so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
The Bible explains that God’s power works best in weakness. The apostle Paul went so far as to say he would even boast of his weaknesses so that people could see the power of God working through him.
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV 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.
We need not be ashamed of our weaknesses but allow God’s power to shine through our weaknesses. That should come as a great relief for some of us, because the burden to “perform well”, “be strong”, “have it all together”, and “prove ourselves” is taken off our backs.
As believers, we are not called to prove “ourselves” to people but to prove that Jesus Christ is alive, living through us, to others.
God is not held by our shortcomings. He never has been and He never will. Here are some examples from biblical history.
1. Gideon: “I am the least in the weakest clan”
Gideon labelled himself as the least in his family and that he was “the least in the weakest clan” in Israel. But God promised to be with Gideon. As a result, Gideon was able to defeat an army of 135,000 men with a crew of just 300 men.
Judges 6:15-16 ESV And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
2. Moses: “I am not good with words.”
Moses labelled himself as being “not very good with words.” He didn’t have the confidence to tell the pharaoh in Egypt to release the Israelites from slavery. But God promised to be with Moses. Moses went on to confront pharaoh, pronounce great miracles, and eventually lead over one million Israelites out to the Promised Land.
Exodus 4:10-12 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
3. Peter: “I am a sinful man.”
Peter labelled himself as “a sinful man”, after he had just recognised Jesus as being empowered by God. Nonetheless, Peter followed Jesus and became one of the three apostles who were closest to Jesus. After Peter received the gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence was so strong on him that even his shadow healed the sick.
Luke 5:5,8-10 ESV And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” … But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken … And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Acts 5:14-15 ESV And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
These are just three examples of how anyone can overcome anything when God is with them, rather than be overwhelmed by our weaknesses, our anxieties, or our circumstances.
God is not held back by our social, physical, or emotional shortcomings. He will help us to prosper and succeed in all that we do when we meditate on and obey His Instructions. The reality is that God has made everything, even our weaknesses, for a purpose!
Joshua 1:8 ESV This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Proverbs 16:4 ESV The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Our weaknesses serve a purpose
Weakness can teach us many things.
For instance, we will learn to:
- identify with other people’s weaknesses and grow in compassion | Hebrews 5:2 ESV He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.
- be more tender hearted to care and encourage those we can also relate to | 1 Thessalonians 5:14 ESV And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
- recognise that we need each other because each one of us has her own strengths and weakness and we can complement one another | 1 Corinthians 12:21-22 ESV The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
- rely on God’s power | Isaiah 40:28-29 NLT … The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
Labelling ourselves based on the world’s definitions of strength leads to sin
On the other hand, this world sets us up to see our weaknesses as personal failings. As a result, we may put see ourselves in ways that are outside of God’s will or plan for us.
Let’s illustrate this with an example. Let’s say we were weak in Chemistry in school and constantly scored C’s. If we were always pushed to score only As and Bs, we might have felt like failures even though we did not technically fail. We only felt this way because of family or social pressures. Over time though, we can adopt labels that sound like this:
- “I was weak in my studies.”
- “I am a failure.”
- “I can’t meet my parents’ expectations. There must be something wrong with me.”
- “I can’t do anything well.”
We are tempted to think this way because we feel ashamed of our shortcomings and weaknesses – which are defined by other people rather than by God. In reality, God’s plan for us may not require any knowledge of chemistry whatsoever!
As believers, we need to be careful not to chase after the approval of people. It is God’s approval that matters. When we form labels for ourselves that are based on the world’s opinions of what we should or should not be like, we are likely to stray away from God’s will for us and sin against Him.
Galatians 1:10 ESV For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
See how God labels us
When we look at the labels God gave Gideon, Moses, and Peter, we see that they had nothing to do with the way these men saw themselves.
1. God labelled Gideon: “A mighty man of valour.”
Gideon called himself the lowest but God sent an angel who called him a “mighty man of valour”.
Judges 6:11-12 ESV Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.”
2. God labelled Moses: “God’s friend.”
Moses called himself a man who was poor in speech, but God called him His friend.
Exodus 33:11 ESV Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
3. God labelled Peter: “The rock on which He will build His church.”
Peter called himself a sinner, but God built his church upon Peter, whom He called His Rock.
Matthew 16:18 ESV And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
It seems that we should not define ourselves by our weaknesses. Rather, we should see how God labels our identities and what He calls us.
The self destruction that comes from labelling ourselves based on our weaknesses
Unfortunately, many of us have learned to label ourselves based on what the world says about our weaknesses. This will lead us down a road of self-doubt and self-destruction.
- Self-rejection | We start to reject ourselves because we can’t accept feeling weak.
- Invites Satan’s constant torment | This gives Satan an opportunity to torment us, he will constantly accuse us and remind us of our weaknesses.
- Shame before God | We can begin to see ourselves as unworthy of God’s love and acceptance.
- Anxiety | This breeds anxiety and stress in our hearts and minds.
- Envy | We may start to envy others.
- Doubt and judge God | We may even wonder why God didn’t give us the strengths we need to be fully accepted in this world.
- Striving | We can strive to compensate for our weaknesses using our own methods, when we really should be going to God for His help and enabling.
When we fix our thoughts on God, we will have peace. When we fix our thoughts on ourselves, we will invariably become anxious. We can even end up rejecting God.
Isaiah 26:3 ESV You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
God helps us in our weaknesses
God alone is our perfect Refuge and Strength. He helps us when we humble ourselves and call out to Him for His help.
Psalm 46:1 ESV … God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
When we turn to God in the midst of our weaknesses, He promises to
- Be with us wherever we go | Joshua 1:9 ESV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- Strengthen and help us as we place our trust in Him | Isaiah 41:10 ESV fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
- Give us His power to stand as His witnesses | Acts 1:8 ESV ut you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
- Be generous with His wisdom when we ask | James 1:5 ESV If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
- Teach us what to say | Luke 12:11-12 ESV And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Our weaknesses are not mistakes, and we are not mistakes
It is important that we understand that our weaknesses are not a mistake and we are not a mistake. God made every one of us for His glory.
Isaiah 43:7 ESV everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
Each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made. But none of us is created perfect or strong in everything because we are designed to be perfected and made new through Jesus Christ. Then we will see the masterpiece that God created us as we move in perfect union with the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 139:13 ESV For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Become walking testimonies for God
The apostle Paul is one example of this. He told the Corinthian church that he chose to go to them in weakness, timid and trembling, and to rely only on the power of the Holy Spirit, so that others would learn to also trust in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:3-5 ESV And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
The apostle Paul did many great things for God because he chose to be weak so that God’s power could work through him. So can we. Let us therefore boast of our weaknesses and shine God’s redemptive power to a broken world. Then we will be the weak and lowly testimonies that show others the hope they have in Christ.
Romans 15:13 ESV May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
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