|Vol. 14 No. 8 August 2012||
Virtually all of us have experienced being weak to some degree from a physical stance. Definitions of weak and weakness include fragile, feebleness, lack of strength, firmness, vigor, liable to give way under pressure or strain. This vulnerability can be most aggravating, frustrating and at times frightening. Sometimes, we will seek medical attention to find the cause to rid ourselves of this feeling of helplessness in order to regain our strength and vigor as quickly as possible.
Like physical weakness, spiritual weakness comes in all shapes and sizes. When we look candidly at our lives, we all must admit being spiritually weak in some aspect. The proper attitude toward spiritual weakness, in ourselves as well as in others, is spelled out in Romans 14:1 and Romans 15:1 respectively. “As for the one, who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions” (ESV). “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” We are further commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”
A great many of us have heard or read the statement, “One week without God makes one weak.” An email circulated several years ago that said, “Without God, our week is: Sinday, Mournday, Tearsday, Wasteday, Thirstday, Fightday, Shatterday.” What rational person wants this?
The focus of this article is choosing to remain spiritually weak. That choice can have the most catastrophic consequences! How tragic when we make little if any effort to overcome our weaknesses because we have no desire to rise above that level of spiritual infancy.
What are some of the behaviors or attitudes that can ensnare us and cause us to knowingly or unknowingly choose to remain spiritually weak? (1) Continuing in deliberate sin against God weakens the obedience of faith, and our growth suffocates. (2) Refusing to allow God’s Word to transform us weakens the obedience of faith, and our relationship to Him suffers. (3) Denying the need to get serious about God’s expectations weakens the obedience of faith, and daily Christian living falters. (4) Ignoring opportunities to serve God and others weakens the obedience of faith, and stagnation occurs.
Paul forthrightly spoke of the spiritual weakness of members at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3a he said, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.”
This spiritual weakness is further described in Hebrews 5:12-14. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” The demands of these passages take constant choosing of a lifestyle worthy of our Christ-given calling. Being addicted to milk will keep one unskilled and spiritually weak.
What has to be done to break this debilitating cycle of an unfruitful life? First, we need to realize that Jesus Christ is our divine support. Hebrews 4:15-16 declares, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Second, we need to realize that choosing to remain spiritually weak is sin because we are commanded to grow up. Paul, speaking to the church at Ephesus, addressed the unity that is found in the body of Christ, which would equip the saints for the work of ministry. He told them this would result in maturity so that they would no longer be children, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:11-14).
Paul, then, gave the formula for defeating spiritual weakness in verses 15-16. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, make the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” The Lord’s church has no place for spiritual hitchhikers!
Third, we need to realize that our thinking patterns must be changed in order for our lives to start flowing in the will of God. Paul wrote regarding Abraham’s obedience of faith in Romans 4:19-21. “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead… He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” This takes constant choosing of a lifestyle worthy of our Christ-given calling.
The Book of Hebrews in Chapter 11 is the most honorable roll call of those who were the strongest in the obedience of faith. Verses 4-31 record the names of those faith monuments. Verses 32-34 continues with the names of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets proclaiming that these men “out of weakness were made strong.”
Paul, speaking of the infirmity of his thorn in the flesh, said that he “pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart” from him (2 Corinthians 12:8). The Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9). In verse 10, Paul stated, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Please note this spiritual giant acknowledged that his weakness became his strength in Christ. Choosing to remain weak is not an option for dedicated followers of God and the Lord Jesus Christ!