Monday, September 8, 2008

A Fool Takes no Pleasure in Understanding But Only in Expressing His Opinion

That fool might just be me.  Let me explain.  Yesterday in Sunday School we were talking about how God uses our weakness much more than our "strength" to advance His kingdom.  Fresh on my mind was a quote from J.R. Miller who says, "God is the God of those who fail. Not that He loves those who stumble and fall, better than those who walk erect without stumbling; but He helps them more. The weak believers get more of His grace--than those who are strong believers. There is a special divine promise, which says, ‘My divine power is made perfect in weakness.’ When we are conscious of our own insufficiency, then we are ready to receive of the divine sufficiency. Thus our very weakness is an element of strength. Our weakness is an empty cup--which God fills with His own strength.” 

I believe this to be wonderfully true.  There are many Scriptures that teach us the same thing:  "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6);  "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:6);   "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" (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Here, though, is where I--the proverbial fool--got carried away with expressing my opinion.  I said something to this affect, "God never commands us in His Word to become strong, but in our weakness to continually look to the Strong One."  I even challenged folks to find any place where God commands us to be strong.  No one answered (perhaps out of kindness)--but guess what?  Even a cursory search of the Scriptures will turn up this very command.  "Be strong and courageous, " God commands Joshua and the people of Israel, no less than four times in the first chapter of Joshua.  There are other such instances in the OT and even in the New:  "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Obviously God does command us to be strong.  I think my idea was correct, but the way I expressed it was . . . lacking.   Here may be a better way:  "God never wants us to grow strong by looking to ourselves and our own resources.  God wants us to grow strong as we look to His strength.  We will always in ourselves be weak.  We are only strong as we rest in the strength of Jesus."  Is this not what Paul is saying in Ephesians 6:10, "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power."  The Psalmist sings the same tune, "The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped" (Psalm 28:7).  Our weakness is an empty cup which God fills with His strength, but God does not fill the cup so that it never needs to be filled again.  As soon as it is filled it is poured out for God's work, so the need and weakness continue, and the cup is filled and filled again.

1 comment:

  1. Pastor James,

    Our group of 4 attended Sunday - I am the shorter "brother" from St. Andrews Chapel in Sanford. I appreciated the message and the quote from Miller. I suspect it is from his volume "The Master’s Blessed’s A Devotional Study of the Beatitudes" - I will check it out tonight when I get home from work. It does require some thought to ponder through the various ways the quote is used and intended.

    Concerning being strong - yes it should be obvious we are to be strong in the faith. But not my faith - it is His faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    By the way I picked our church for Sunday and chose yours for the following reasons - you had a web site, you have a blog, you used the blog and had a post about Edwards. And hey - anyone that leads off with a Newton quote has to be reformed.

    Your message did not disappoint.

    Sola Fide,