Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Week Thirty-Nine - Self-Imposed Weakness

Beside the Well
“Quit you like men, be strong.“1 Corinthians 16:13
            You might think that is a strange verse to introduce a few thoughts on weakness, but it is actually a great place to start.  Too often we languish and become miserable by our own choices.
            Weakness has a source.  If food is before us, and we do not eat, we will become weak.  If we fail to keep up necessary exercise, our body, nerves, and muscles suffer, and become weak.  If we overindulge or overwork, we weaken ourselves.  If we refuse to rest or only lay about, weakness is the result. Whether through carelessness or neglect, this sort of self-imposed weakness is sinful.
            In Hebrews 12:1 we are encouraged to lay aside every weight, and the sin that easily bests us so we can run the race with strength and faith. The weaknesses in the previous paragraph are common to us all and entirely human.  But there is another sort of weakness to which we fall prey—spiritual weakness.
God lays before us food for our soul, but we fail to feed upon it.  He calls us to temperance in all things, but we waver between overdoing and under-doing in so many areas.  God gives His children rest, but we never stop long enough to take a breath.  All of these result in spiritual weakness and still classify as sin.
            So today, let’s make a list of things that we need in order to be spiritually strong.  I am going to take for granted that you know you need to eat, rest, exercise, and take care of your physical health.  Obedience and self-control in those areas create a physical and mental strength necessary for a healthy life but take a look at this list for spiritual strength.
            1.  Right and sound principles.  For example, fear is a source of weakness; and the opposite, love, is a source of strength.  We need firm foundations.
            2.  Mental and emotional nutrition.  Feeding on God’s word develops strength of heart and the mental capacity for reasoning. All wisdom is hidden within those pages. Drawing them out creates strength and stamina.
            3.  Work. Doing what God bids builds strength. Inactivity always brings weakness. The stronger Christians are those who employ themselves in the ministry.  And, as Oswald Chambers says, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.”  Prayer creates spiritual strength!
            4.  Self-control.  Keeping your body under subjection.  That takes care of physical maladies/sins as a source of weakness!  (Please don’t misinterpret.  I am not saying all physical ailments are sin.  But we are responsible to care for the body God has given and not impose weakness on it by poor choices or neglect.)
            5.  Rest. We need quiet times; seasons when the heart and mind are both still.  We rest that we may work.  Just carry the burden God gives you; bear that, and you will always find it enough. And when your part is done—rest your heart and soul in His embrace.
            6.  We need the light and sunshine of goodness around us.  We need it from others, and we need to be sharing it out ourselves. Spread a little bit of kindness and love around you.  Be good to others.  Smile. Be happy.  Enjoy life.
            7.  We need a good atmosphere.  This comes from choosing good friends, avoiding gossip and bitterness, exercising grace and forgiveness, and refusing to live under a cloud of despair.
            8.  Help. We are not alone on this earth.  We are not superhuman. We need help from those around us for encouragement, instruction, correction, and companionship. Others need those same things from us.
            9.  We need nerve.  Nerve is soundness.  The opposite would be anxiety.  Anxiety is bred by fear and worry, but God has much to say about dispelling them. “Casting all your care upon Him,” “Take no thought for tomorrow.” “Fear not.” And “say to them of timid heart, be strong.”
            10.  We need will to be strong.  If we have a will to be strong, we will cherish the right principles, take the nutrition available in God’s word, work to a healthy regimen, rest, look for and create sunshine and a good atmosphere.  We will seek help from God and others and stay away from things that unnerve our resolve.
            Take time to think through these things and personalise them.  God is there to help you, but you must do your part.  Lay aside the weights and excuses.  Get up off that couch and stand up strong, moving forward with strength in your whole spirit.
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”  Ephesians 3:16

adapted from: Westminster Chapel Pulpit, Rev S Martin