Last week I shared this scripture from Proverbs 24:10: “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”
I ended last week’s blog with a reference to the apostle Paul and how when we are weak, God is strong. How do these two things fit together? Am I supposed to work on getting stronger, or embrace my weakness?
Are Bigger Muscles Really The Goal?
An athlete prepares for a race by building up their muscles. So if we are to prepare for hard times by “working out”, what needs to get stronger to avoid “fainting”?
I’ve heard many sermons about growing in patience, growing in love, putting off the old man, crucifying my carnal desires. The implication seems to be that if I just pray and study enough, and use enough self-discipline to practice these virtues, I will grow in them.
Well, yes. There is value in this. There are scriptures that speak of it.
But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. - 1 Timothy 4:7-8
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. - James 1:2-4
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 2 Peter 1:5-8
What are we really exercising when we practice these things? What is the Source of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and all the rest?
Too often in the past I’ve assumed I’m to build up my own personal love-muscles, kindness-muscles, godliness-muscles, so that I don’t “faint” and need to ask God for help as often. But when God asks us to grow in these virtues, His goal isn’t for us to be “so strong” by ourselves that we don’t need Him anymore. In fact, that’s impossible.
What We Really Need Is The Holy Spirit
These virtues spring from the Spirit of God. And the Spirit of God is inside of us.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? - 1 Corinthians 3:16
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. - 2 Corinthians 1:21-22