Ironically, strength is found in weakness

Goliath was the easiest target for David, because Goliath was the weakest in his position of strength. But David was the strongest, due to his position of weakness that Goliath took for granted. In real life situation, all failings emanate from positions of strengths. The ultimate downfall of mighty Christians will obviously come from their positions of strength (Matthew 7:21-23).

The position of strength is what makes us feel good and also it is what gives us pride. However, in the Book of Proverbs, Solomon was inspired to write that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). This is probably one of the scriptures that, while unheeded by many, may also be quoted by many.

In as much as Paul, today, may be regarded as having been the pillar in the apostolic ministries of the first century, he probably was viewed as the weakest. Here is what made Paul different from the other apostles: “I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, His bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account” (2 Corinthians 10:9-10) (ESV).

Whoever, was saying what was descriptive of Paul’s weak stature and how his speech was of no account, as lacking charisma, may have been stating the obvious. It was not the stature and charisma of Paul that made him strong, in his ministry. But, instead, his weak body and lacking charisma made him strong.

Apparently, Paul himself fully understood this mystery, as to declare: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30) (ESV). Is it not ironic to hear such words, intended for finding value in weakness?  Indeed, these words are strange and cannot be easily consumed, in a world used to value successes and heroism.

But Paul insists that it is from the positions of weaknesses that we are victors, as to boast about weaknesses than strengths? In another chapter of the same epistle, Paul repeats similar sentiments.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) (ESV).

To Paul, this may have been a new revelation.  But this was not a new revelation at all. In His ministry Jesus had stated this reality on several occasions, one of which is recorded in the Book of Mark:

“And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the way?’ But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest, And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me’” (Mark 9:33-37) (ESV).

I am not sure of how Jesus could have used another illustration, than using something as weak as a child, as compared to adults?  But this was not the only recording of Jesus, stating such truism, as far as God’s Kingdom is concerned. Basically, His ministry was the opposite of what identified with this world.

A senior pastor, who has been in the ministry far longer than any other spiritual leader, cannot listen when being told that he/she is weakest in his/her strengths. I probably would do the same, being in his/her shoes.  This is how dangerous this life can be, to Christians.

I suppose this could be the only reason why Paul mentioned that to him, living was Christ, and dying was gain? (Philippians 1:21).  It may not be possible to understand why living is Christ, without fully understanding what Jesus went through in this life. [See “Jesus the servant and Christ the Lord”].

Jesus Christ never allowed any glory to come His way in this life. Even whenever, He had performed some awe-inspiring miracle, He would always instruct those benefitting to keep it to themselves (Mark 7:36).

Obviously, this is the opposite of what is known of those gifted with miracles in their ministries?  They actually use television to publicize their miraculous abilities, so that more people can follow them. This, obviously, makes a lot of sense if one is to leave some impact in what one does. Otherwise, those Evangelical Ministers would remain as nonentities, thereby scuttling their fabulous abilities.

However, Paul discovered the mystery of being strong in humility.  As Christ revealed it to him, those miracle performing ministers may be in their weakest positions. Ordinary people would view them as being in their strongest positions, but they would be in their weakest positions.

In His ministry, Jesus served only for three and a half years. That ministry included the miracles and great teachings that could have easily made Him attract millions to be His followers.  However, scriptural records reveal that, even immediately after His resurrection, less than a thousand people identified with a man who had done such great wonders, than any other spiritual leader.

The mockery and insults, leading to His brutal death on the cross did not serve as advertising His glory. Certainly, such insults are only the opposite of a Man who, today His name attracts thousands in stadia, advocated by the known charismatic leaders of our time?  Yet, the same Jesus is proclaimed as being the same; yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  [Kindly view “Influencing is the method not witnessing”]

Attracting a huge following to oneself, can be enticing, but not when taking seriously the words of Paul: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30) (ESV). In my view, Paul is only saying these words to stress emphasis.  Otherwise, the word “boast” does not exist in the vocabulary of the one who fully understands the mystery of Jesus.

We are disappointed by many things in this life.  Failure to achieve things that we aim for could be part of what disappoints us. Being insulted by friends, relatives and church mates could be another of those things. But none of such disappointments can overtake greater disappointments, experienced by the greatest Man who ever lived, Jesus Christ.

The nearer we could match Jesus’ experiences in being considered as travestying people’s expectations, the nearer we could be towards His Kingdom. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He probably works among the possibly most despised people of our time. This is because His power is made perfect in weakness; according to Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The majority of people look for Jesus, expecting to find Him where He would be not.  This should not be surprising, as He specifically stated: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14) (ESV). [See “Crossed into an evil and adulterous generation”]

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com  for $6.99

 

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