I have a challenge for you; hold your breath until you comprehend what I am writing about. Ready, deep breath, and go!
I have been pondering, how much of what God desires to give us do we actually miss out on? Many have said they trust God and His promises and how thankful they are for God’s provision, especially Jesus’ sacrifice. Still, the next thing we know, we are complaining about our circumstances and acting all depressed because life is not going the way ‘we planned.’ Most of us have heard someone sing the lyric, ‘What if blessings come through raindrops and healing comes through tears…’ Now, if that is true, there must be a warehouse of blessings stamped ‘undeliverable’ due to resentment, anger, selfishness, fear, depression, frustration, and disbelief.
Many enter this dark hole of discouragement because they believed in a ‘Straw-man’ argument, that is, formulating an idea of GOD based on our own desires and perceptions that distorts or exaggerates the truth. In doing so, we rely on the distortion and not who God is. If we were to take Jesus at His word when He establishes Himself as “the way, the truth, and the life… no one comes to God but by Him” (John 14:6), then our understanding would shift from what we perceive to standing on a solid foundation.
God tells us, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Weakness meaning accepting our real position as sinners who are blinded by selfish ambition, ignorant of God’s will, and rely on finite capabilities. It’s like what Paul says to the Galatians, “My old ‘weak’ self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NLT) Paul is so excited about his honest evaluation, he declares, “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT) This is what most of us are missing out on… Christ’s power. Because we are holding onto a ‘false perception’ or ‘straw man,’ we reject the truth of God’s Word. In doing so, we also reject what the world calls ‘weak,’ but what God describes as the necessary humility required for His power to work in us.
Are you still holding your breath? Just like you missing out on the air you need to breathe for everyday life, when we don’t crucify or put off our egocentric desire for autonomy and become ‘weak,’ we lack the power necessary to live Jesus’s life of faith. All we have then is trite sayings and good intentions that prop up a facade of spirituality.
This weakness God speaks of is not cowardice or failure, it’s an authentic realization that I am a sinner! I am weak and unable to fight this battle against sin. I need to stop lying to myself about my own righteousness and cease relying on my finite capabilities. In letting go (or crucifying) those things, I free up my mind and hands to reach for Jesus’ gracious gifts. Paul describes his weak position as, “whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out His special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by His grace.” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT) Alright, you can breathe now… Did you catch that last line? He says, “God is working through us by His grace.’ So not only has God saved us by His grace when we believed, making it a gift that we can’t take credit for, but also, by His grace, we are His masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:8, 10) When we couple this truth together with Paul’s telling us to get ourselves in a right position by crucifying our desire for power and control or autonomy, we begin to realize the empowerment to do ‘these good works,’ by God’s grace.
Grace is awesome! By it, we receive salvation, which as sinners, we don’t deserve. Also, by grace, we acquire The Spirit to empower us to understand and discern the truth. Grace provides the strength it takes to control the self’s egocentric desire for autonomy, and grace fills us with the courage to live the life of Christ by faith.
When we choose pride over weakness, we live without all that grace provides. When we choose weakness over selfish ambition, we are mighty warriors for Christ, victorious through the cross. Amen!
Most of us will go through life holding our spiritual breath, relying solely on our finite understanding and capacities, and live without the Spirit’s empowerment. But some will breathe deeply of the Spirit and change the world.
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.