Sharpen the Saw

This has been an exciting year for our family. After moving down to Snow Shoe, PA back in January, we purchased a home (our first!) over the summer and moved in about a month ago. Before moving in we spent a month fixing up our new place. One of the lessons that was reinforced several times over was the importance of having the right tools. Let’s just say the previous owners loved wallpaper. Steph and I opted for paint rather than 80’s wallpaper so that meant we had to get the old stuff off. I was very thankful that we had a “steamer” to aid in the process and let me tell you, that tool saved me a lot of time. As I neared completion of this job, however, there was a lot of wallpaper in small spaces. These spaces were too small for the steamer head to fit over and create the necessary seal for it to work effectively. This slowed the job down considerably. What I didn’t realize, however, was that there was a smaller tool that helps precisely in those small spaces. I could have saved myself a lot of time if I knew we had that tool (I guess next time I should look in the box). The funny thing is, right before I finished up, Steph and I found the smaller head!!! Needless to say I was a little irked, but I got over it pretty quickly.

This little lesson reminded me of a verse from the book of Ecclesiastes: “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed” (Ecclesiastes 10:10). In other words, if the blade gets dull, sharpen it. Simple proverb, but it can be enormously helpful and useful.

Did you know that in our Christian walk, God has given us all the tools we need? That’s right, God has given us all the spiritual resources we need to grow and be more like Jesus. He has given us means of grace such as the Word, prayer, the fellowship of believers, and service. All of these are gifts that God has given us for our benefit and to bring glory to His great name. But, here’s the key – we need to use them! Let me take a few moments to run through these spiritual resources.

The Word: The Bible says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). In short, God’s word is powerful! The Bible is a great gift to the church as it offers us the means to know God and to grow in Christ-likeness. We should strive to follow the example of the Berean believers in Acts 17:11: “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily.” Dear friends may we follow their example and be a people of the Book.

Prayer: Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). All too often, we know the power of prayer and our need for prayer, but we allow our busy lives to get in the way. May it never be! The Bible says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3). If you truly love the Lord, there will be a desire in your heart to commune with Him and call upon His name. God has given us this invitation, and we must take Him up on it.

Fellowship: The Bible says, “And let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). It’s easy to drift away from the church, isn’t it? In fact, it happens all the time to professing believers. But God has designed things in such a way that we need one another, within the Body of Christ. We need one another’s prayers, encouragement, love, and support. This is what the Church is all about. As the apostle Paul reminds us, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Service: Jesus set the example for us in this regard: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). We are servants of the Most High God, and we must do all that we can to be faithful servants. In our own pride, we often approach relationships from the perspective of “what have you done for me lately?” rather than the “what can I do for you?” approach. However, every Christian should have a burning desire to “spend and be spent” (2 Corinthians 12:15) for King Jesus. We must desire to use our spiritual gifts (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4) in service to God and for the good of the church.

Just to summarize, God has given us all the tools we need to succeed in our Christian walk. We have these amazing spiritual resources at our disposal, but we need to take advantage of them! Brethren, may God find us faithful.

Growing to Christian Maturity

When Steph and I first got married, we planned on taking the slow approach to growing our family. We wanted to have kids, but we also wanted to wait a few years before we got the ball rolling, so to speak. Well, lo and behold, God had other plans. If you know anything about our family, you will know that we now have 4 kids all under the age of 6. Having kids has been a wonderful blessing for Steph and I and we are grateful to God that “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

 

One of the many blessings of having children is that you get to watch them grow and develop simultaneously. Our youngest, Jeremiah, is just started walking. Our middle-man John just started to ride his bike. And our twin daughters have both started to read. Steph and I are thrilled with each of these new developments, but it’s also a reminder that kids grow up fast. It wasn’t all that long ago that John was at the stage Jeremiah is at. So too, it seems like yesterday that the girls were at John’s stage. Children grow and develop rapidly and we know it won’t be long before the kidlets are all grown up and leaving home.

 

I believe that just as God gave us marriage to be a picture of Christ’s love for his bride, the church, so too, God has given us children to be a picture of our need for growth in Christian maturity. For believer’s, our growth in godliness and Christ-likeness should mimic the rapid development of our kids. That is not to say we won’t have setbacks along the way, but it is to say that growth over the long haul will be steady and consistent. One of the things that I lament over is the swell of professing Christian’s who are stagnant – they never seem to grow in sanctification. What they looked like in 1995 is not all that different from what they look like now. Dear friends, may it never be! The desire of every true believer should be to grow and mature, and look more and more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). I could marshal 100 more verses that speak to this truth, but suffice it to say that God never intends us to stay at the same level of spiritual maturity. He intends for us to grow as he prepares us for heaven. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

 

What about you – are you growing in your Christian walk? Do you look more like Jesus each and every day? Don’t be content with a nominal faith that produces little (if any) growth. Strive with all you might to add to your faith (2 Peter 1:5-11). Strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). And like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it your may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

The Suffering Son

I can’t imagine anything harder than watching your child suffer. A couple years ago our son John got a serious case of the hives and Steph and I were forced to watch John suffer in agony for several days. There was little we could do to relieve his itch and pain, except to pray for him and let it run its course. That was a hard time for us, but God brought us through and I am sure many parents can relate to our feeling of helplessness as we watched our son suffer.

Sickness, sorrow, and death all part of living in a Genesis 3 fallen world. Life is downright hard at times. But we can take comfort in knowing that as sin and death entered into the world, the living God did not sit back and let things simply play out. No, the Triune God launched a rescue plan. Remarkably, this plan involved the Son of God suffering in an unthinkable manner on the cross. Centuries before the time of Christ, the prophet Isaiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, uttered these words found in Isaiah 53:

He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;

and as for his generation, who considered

that he was cut off out of the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked

and with a rich man in his death,

although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;

 

This past Easter we were reminded of the costliness of the cross. We were reminded of the immense sufferings of Christ that were required in order to purchase redemption for all God’s people. Without question, it must have been horrific for God the Father to watch the Son suffer and die on the cross. As He heard the Son cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” we can only imagine how hard that must have been. What is even more remarkable, however, is that all along, this was the Father’s plan. “It was the will of the Lord to crush Him.”

 

Earlier on, before his arrest and trial, Jesus knew what awaited Him. In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). If there had been any possible alternative to the cross, no doubt the Father would have taken it. He would have removed “the cup” so that His precious Son would not have had to suffer in such a manner. But there was no alternative. Jesus would have to walk the Calvary road in order to complete the atonement. As 1 Peter 2:24 explains it, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” Friends, we have now moved beyond the season of Easter, but may we ever keep ourselves near the cross. May we never lose sight of the love of God and the costliness of salvation and may we “live to righteousness.”

 

Of Passports and Faith

Last summer, we made a last minute decision to visit my family in Saskatchewan. For most people, taking a summer trip (even if it involves crossing international borders) is not that big of a deal, but for us it was. Our twin daughters were almost 4 at the time and our son John was almost 2, not to mention that Steph was at the midpoint of her pregnancy with Jeremiah. Needless to say, we felt strongly that God was leading us to make the 2000-mile trip to visit my family.

 

Forgive me for going into so many details, but you need to have this background in order for this post to make sense. For the better part of a year, Steph and I had wanted to get John a passport but for several reasons, it had been put off. Finally, at the end of May 2014, we sent away for John’s passport and were told it would arrive in 4-6 weeks. Not long after that (around mid-June), we made our decision and booked our flights.

 

Having booked flights to Saskatchewan without yet having John’s passport, we knew we were taking a bit of a risk. We knew that our mid-July trip was beyond the 4-6 week range that it takes for them to process passports, but there was no guarantee. For 2-3 weeks as we waited for the passport, Steph and I fretted over the situation. We asked ourselves, what do we do if the passport doesn’t come in time? Do we cancel our trip? That didn’t seem right because God had impressed it upon our hearts that we needed to make this trip. Finally, after praying about it and asking God to come through for about the millionth time, it hit me that my faith was lacking. Did I think that if I just prayed enough times, that finally when I got to the magic number of ???, that would be enough and God would come through? I don’t know, but it kind of seemed that way.

 

Like most everything, the Bible has something to say about this. In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and the one who knocks it will be opened.” Or consider James 1:6: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

 

As a pastor, I often encourage our people to pray and to make prayer a way of life. The true Christian is someone who communes frequently with God and has hunger to increasingly know the Savior. But is it possible to be good “prayers” and have our approach all wrong? You bet it is! Like my illustration above, we can find ourselves going frequently to God in prayer, but not praying “the prayer of faith” (James 5:15). Sometimes as Christians, we tend to hope God comes through instead of truly believing and trusting that we have what we have asked for. Let me give you one more passage of Scripture: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him (Christ), that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

 

When we ask anything according to God’s will, the Apostle John tells us we already have it. It’s as good as done. This is not “name it and claim it” prosperity theology. It is simply what the Bible teaches us. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). I fear that far too much of our praying is not done in faith and this needs to change.

 

So what about the rest of the story? The passport arrived about 5 weeks after we had sent it off to be processed, and well over a week before our trip. By that time God had already convicted me and the lesson had been learned. But as write this, almost a year later, the faith lessons continue. I praise God that Steph and I have grown so much in the area of faith and trust in Christ, but we still have a long ways to go. Lord increase our faith!

A Simple Way to Pray

Last year I stumbled across a little book by Martin Luther called A Simple Way to Pray. The story behind the book is that Luther’s barber, Master Peter Beskendorf, asked him the simple but important question – how do I pray? Of course, Master Peter’s question resembles that of the disciples in Luke 11. After hearing Jesus pray, one of His disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). It was clear to this disciple, probably along with all the rest, that their prayer life was weak and in need of help. Jesus responded by teaching them what came to be known as The Lord’s Prayer. We could make the case that the Lord’s prayer, along with Jesus’ prayer in John 17, are among the greatest in all of Scripture.

 

Well, Luther’s advice to Master Peter was to take the Lord’s Prayer (along with the 10 Commandments and the Apostles Creed) and expand on it. Take, for example, the first line, “Father, hallowed be your name.” Meditate on the thought, Luther would say, of God as your heavenly Father. Along with that, think of the greatness and sacredness of the name of God. Luther writes, “Yes, Lord God, dear Father, hallowed be thy name, both in us and throughout the whole world…..Convert those who are still to be converted that they with us and we with them may hallow and praise thy name, both with true and pure doctrine and with a good and holy life. Restrain those who are unwilling to be converted so that they be forced to cease from misusing, defiling, and dishonoring thy holy name and from misleading the poor people. Amen.”

 

As you can see, Luther takes one small portion of the prayer and greatly expands on it, with the central theme remaining the sacredness of God’s holy name. He then moves on to the next part of the prayer, still following the same method. Just as an as an aside, Luther was legendary for his prayer life. Often rising at four in the morning, Luther would spend an hour or two in prayer in order to kick-start his day. If you are struggling in your prayer life (and I think we would all say our prayer life needs some improving), then you would be wise to follow Luther’s advice. What is great about this method is it can be applied to tons of different passages of Scripture. We can go beyond the Lord’s Prayer or the 10 Commandments to many other parts of Scripture. The Psalms are a great place to go, but I would also recommend the New Testament epistles. Paul, in particular, has several prayers in his New Testament letters. Of late, I have been meditating on Colossians where Paul includes a moving and powerful prayer at the beginning of the letter.

 

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Colossians 1:9-10). The prayer continues for a few more verses – be sure to look it up.

 

In using Luther’s method we could proceed in the following manner. “Lord, help me to pray without ceasing. Give me a heart for prayer. Give me great joy in communing with you throughout the day. And Father, help me to pray often for my fellow Christians in the same way that Paul did.” We would then continue with the next part of the prayer. “Lord Jesus, fill me with the knowledge of your will. Thank you that you have revealed yourself to me that I might know how to walk and live. May I always live in obedience to your will, being led by your Spirit at all times. And Lord, fill me with all spiritual wisdom and understanding. I want to be wise beyond my years. I want to live a life that is worthy of you, but I know I can’t do it on my own – Lord help me! Oh, that I would live in such a manner that is pleasing to you.”

 

Obviously when you use this method of prayer you can personalize it. You can pray in your own way, but what is great is that you have a template to work from. One of the benefits of using Scripture is that it allows you to pray in a focused and powerful manner. Many people struggle with distraction in their prayers. They have a hard time staying focused, but in praying God’s Word, I can almost guarantee you will be less distracted.

 

If you can take away anything from this post that will help your prayer life, I would be delighted. There is nothing greater than communion with God, but please understand that you can experience improvement in your prayer life. In teaching them the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus helped the disciples to grow in their prayer life (along with millions of others down through the ages), and I think Luther’s advice continues to be relevant to us today. Using this method of praying God’s Word is an effective way to stay sharp in our prayer lives. Why not give it a try?

No Room For Jesus

A sermon from Luke 2:1-7

Two thousand years ago, the most powerful man in the world was Caesar Augustus and Caesar made a decree that everyone within the Roman Empire had to be registered. In order to register, however, you had to return to your hometown. Joseph, the man engaged to Mary, lived in the region Galilee and the town of Nazareth, which was over 60 miles from his hometown of Bethlehem. Even though his wife was pregnant and in need of care, there would be no exceptions to be made in his circumstances. Joseph would have to make the trip south to Bethlehem in order to be registered and his wife would have to come along with him.

Now, for those of you who are familiar with the story of David, you will know that he grew up in Bethlehem – which is why Luke calls it “the city of David.” But don’t be fooled by that terminology – Bethlehem was not some thriving metropolis. Our largest cities grow by tens of thousands of people every year, but Bethlehem, 1000 years after the time of David, was still just a modest city. It was into this modest locale that the Son of God would enter into the world. The amazing thing about this was that it was all part of God’s marvelous plan. Centuries earlier, this had been prophesied. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

As these events unfolded, they were not by random chance. They were all part of God’s sovereign plan right from the beginning. The world is constantly telling us that everything happens by chance, including life itself. We are simply the product of random mutations that have evolved for billions of years. But everything in the natural world sends us a very different message. As we look around us, we see order and design. We see creativity and magnificent beauty. The only reasonable explanation is that what we see is God’s handy-work – His remarkable creation. And we clearly see His sovereignty in the Nativity story. It was God’s plan all along that His Son, the Savior of the world, would be born in Bethlehem – the city of David.

It is likely that there were a large number of people who were in the same situation as Joseph. At one time, perhaps they had lived in Bethlehem or had family there, but for whatever reason, they moved away and now would have to return. After Caesar issued this decree, the town activity would have picked up considerably. With all these people returning in order to register, it was not surprising that Mary and Joseph could not find any room at the Inn. You might be wondering, what about Joseph’s family and relatives? Surely they could house them or find a place for them? But such a scenario was not meant to be – there was simply no room, especially for a family of modest means.

The situation was further complicated when Mary’s pregnancy moved along so fast that the time came for her to give birth. There would be no place for pickiness – they would have to find a place and find it fast and it would have to be a non-conventional place. The place they found is probably the last place in the world that you or I would think of – baby Jesus was born in an animal stable. We are not specifically told that in the text, but we can infer it from Luke’s use of the word “manger.” A manger was a trough – the place that the animals drank from. Let’s think about this for a moment – the birth of the Son of God – the Savior of the world – the birth of the most important person in history, took place in the most humble setting imaginable.

And we wonder: how could this be? How could God’s very own Son, be born in an animal stable? Why didn’t they make room for Mary and Joseph someplace else? From our human perspective these are legitimate questions. But if we take a quick history tour over the past 2000 years, we would see that seldom has there ever been room for Jesus in the world. Over the past 2000 years, mankind has been doing its best to push Jesus out of everything – the result is that we have no room for Jesus anywhere. Let’s take a quick tour of our current situation.

There is no room for Jesus in the courts today. We have determined that there is no need for the Divine law in our justice systems. We are rational beings, so we think, and therefore, God has been left out of the law courts. What is the result? The result is little, if any regard for human life or morality. We have killed millions and millions of babies and called it “choice.”

There is no room for Jesus in our schools today. Our children are taught to be suspicious of anyone who claims to know “the truth.” Any professor that goes against the theory of Darwinian evolution puts their career in jeopardy. And there is little room for the very name “Jesus” in any educational curriculum across our land.

There is no room for Jesus in our government today. Aside from trying to get a few votes from the evangelical demographic, our government officials show no regard for the Son of God. They govern in a godless, immoral way, and constantly invite God’s judgment.

There is no room for Jesus even at Christmas. Ironic as it is, the celebration of the birth of our Savior takes second place to a fictional character that wears a red suit and has a long beard and gives kids whatever they want. We don’t say Merry Christmas anymore – we say “happy holidays.”

There is no room for Jesus in our families today. Instead of valuing this God-ordained institution, our society has placed its emphasis elsewhere – primarily on “the self.” As a result, the family unit has broken down and our whole society is suffering, as a result. The single parent has almost become the norm and the nuclear family has become a novel idea from long days past.

There is no room for Jesus in our conversation today. The mere mention of his name brings feelings of hatred to some, but indifference to most. He might have been a good moral teacher centuries ago, they say, but certainly not the Son of God. We often hesitate to bring Jesus up in our conversations for fear of “offending” someone.

There is no room for Jesus in our busy lives today. We have things to do, people to meet, and places to see. How could we possibly fit Jesus into all that? If we do have a little extra time here and there, we might be able to fit him in, but it had better not inconvenience us, or so we reason.

Finally, there is no room for Jesus in our churches today. Rather than affirm and teach the exclusivity of Jesus Christ – that He is the way, the truth, and the life and the only way to God, we dumb down the teaching of the bible.

So you see, this world that we live in, is not much different than Bethlehem at the time of Christ. We have pushed Jesus out of our country, our families, our churches, and our lives. As you know the results have been devastating. But let me put it to you – is there room in your heart for Jesus? Is there room in your heart for Son of God? Just because the world has pushed Jesus aside, does not mean that you must do the same. You might be wondering; how can I make room in my heart for Jesus. Perhaps your heart is filled with anger, despair, shame and sufferings from long past. How can I make room for Jesus when I am so broken, you ask? Well, I can assure that there is always room for Jesus. No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, Jesus can forgive you and make you whole again.

Let me share with you the gospel. The word gospel means “good news” and the gospel is the greatest news in the world. This news is nothing like the news we watch on TV or read about on the internet. This news is actually “good news.” But before we get to the good news, we must understand the bad news first.

You and me and everyone on planet earth is a sinner. We have fallen short of God’s perfect law and now the wrath of God is upon us. So even if you think you are a good person, you are really not. The Bible says that no one is good but God alone. The Bible also teaches that the wages of sin is death. So the result of our sin is certain death and ultimate separation from God. With that in mind, let’s get to the good news part.

God is love. And God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ. The nativity story tells how Jesus was brought in the world. We sometimes call this the incarnation – how God became flesh and dwelt among us. But there is more to it than that – Jesus grew up and became a man and was ultimately crucified on a cross. You ask, how could the Son of God be crucified? The answer is that God the Father actually “gave” God the Son, over to death. Why would God the Father do such a thing? The answer lies in His love. God knew that because we were dead in our trespasses and sins, the only way to bring life to us was through His Son. So Jesus took our place on the cross and by his blood sacrifice, we have forgiveness of sins.

The only way to explain this is grace – amazing grace. There is nothing that you can do to save yourself. The bible says that it is by grace that we are saved. It is not by good deeds or by our good works. Rather, it is by grace, through faith and the message of the gospel is the greatest news you will ever hear. But how can I receive that forgiveness, you might be wondering?

First off, you must believe that Jesus is who He said He was – the Son of God. This is what is called “faith.” Second, you must trust Him for your salvation. Along with that, you must repent and turn from your sins, and follow Jesus. Perhaps at this point in your life, you feel like you have tried everything. You’ve tried to be a good person, you’ve tried to live a good life, but you’ve never truly been satisfied. You feel like your life is empty and without meaning. If that’s where you’re at, you are actually in a great position because you know that you are helpless in your own strength and in great need of Christ.

I want to assure you that there is room at the foot of the cross for you. Don’t be like the rest of the world – they have no place for Jesus. But is there room in your heart for Jesus? I can assure you that if you take this step of faith, the road ahead will not be easy, but it will be entirely worth it. Is there room in your heart for Jesus?

I preached this sermon December 24, 2013, at our Christmas Eve service. It was inspired in part by a sermon Charles Spurgeon preached December 21, 1862, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

What Is So Great About Being Weak?

2 Corinthians 11:30 “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”

 

The Christian life offers many paradoxes, one of which is the paradox of weakness. The Bible tells us that being weak is actually a good thing. Ironically, we all want to be strong. We want to be strong physically, mentally, emotionally, and in virtually every other way. But if we were honest with ourselves, we would admit we are not. We struggle to keep things together on a daily basis. For the Christian, however, being weak is a good thing. Let me give you six reasons as to why weakness is not the bad thing we often think it to be.

 

  1. Being weak reminds us that we can’t take any of the credit. Remarkably, God chooses to use His people to accomplish His purposes. But anything of lasting value that is done in our lives only happens through God’s strength and power. Paul reminds some of his fellow believers of this reality in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31: 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 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; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” Like the apostle Paul, when we are used of God, we can’t take any of the credit. We are just ordinary men and women, being used by a very gracious God.

 

  1. Being used of God also points the world to Christ. Obviously, this second reason compliments the first. God chooses to use His people to accomplish extraordinary things, not so they can take the credit, but so that God will gain the glory. God does this to point the world to Him. I am reminded of Acts 4:13, where we read, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Peter and John were not impressive by the world’s standards. They were just ordinary fishermen. But having “been with Jesus,” they were a force to be reckoned with and people could not help but notice these “common men.”

 

  1. Being weak makes us long for heaven where we will be given new bodies. The Bible tells us, “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53). You don’t have to be a Christian to know that slowly (sometimes not so slowly) your body is breaking down. The older you get, the weaker you get. Yet again, this is a good thing because it makes us long for something more. For the Christian, that “something more” will one day be granted to us in the form a new glorified body.

 

  1. Being weak keeps us from making our bodies an idol. This is a big temptation, especially in our modern world where health and wellness are a huge focus. Safe to say that for many people, their body is their god. They are so focused and consumed with taking care of their bodies that little else matters. And granted that “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). As Christians, we want to invest ourselves in “the life to come” over and above everything else.

 

  1. Being weak helps us keep things in perspective. Yet again, this complements the previous point. Paul writes, “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). There is infinite value and worth in knowing Christ while any value that the world offers is continually diminishing. The reason why we need to keep things in perspective is because we are constantly being told just the opposite. When we remember our own weakness, however, investing in this world and the “glories” that are offered is not such a temptation. I will never be a “mover and a shaker” in this world and I am glad for that. Jesus said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24). Jesus didn’t say it is impossible, but He did say it is hard. The reason is simple – strength and riches tempt us to keep investing in this world. Weakness, on the other hand, is a continual reminder to invest in the world to come.

 

  1. Being weak is a sign of our identifying with Christ. Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Through His death on the cross, Christ humbled himself in the ultimate way. And now, Christ is inviting us to walk the Calvary road with Him by taking up our cross and following Him. In so doing, we are forsaking the way of the world, and embracing the way of weakness. The believer now lives “by faith in the Son of God” and daily relies upon His strength and not our own.

In summary, we can be content to be weak and satisfied to let Christ’s power flow through us. Turning once again to the apostle Paul, he writes, “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 12:10). Weaknesses and everything else that Paul experienced were actually for the good because it forced Him to trust His Savior. Do you have that perspective today, in your own life?

 

Thus, the reason why weakness is a good thing for the Christian is because it compels us to turn to Christ. It forces us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). And it brings glory to God in extraordinary ways.