Do not strive in your own strength. –Andrew Murray
Strength is definitely required to live the Christian life. However, not the strength that comes
through self-exertion; but the power that comes from yielding to God, who strengthens those
who acknowledge their weakness and dependence on Him.
This is a guest post by Beth Harris. She is a wife, mother, Bible study leader and volunteer editor for markalanwilliams.net.
Recently, during a prolonged cold, I completely lost my voice. At first, I insisted on trying to
speak anyway, but even whispering was difficult and painful. Soon my resistance gave way to
submission, as I realized the best treatment was to surrender my efforts to speak, obey the
wisdom of the doctor and just wait for God to heal me. I was dependent on note writing and
Initially it was very frustrating, but the more I trusted God for help, the more He gave me peace to accept my condition. Also, He strengthened my faith to believe that in time my voice would return. Soon my frustration gave way to contentment. My part was to rest, sip tea with honey and trust, and God’s part was to hopefully heal me, and He did.
But what if I had forced myself to keep speaking, without yielding, waiting and resting? I could have disregarded the advice of the doctor and insisted on pushing myself and exerting my own effort to regain my speech. I could have pushed through the pain and chosen to resist the help that God was providing. But that would have no doubt prolonged my condition and suffering, and possibly done irreparable damage to my vocal chords and health.
I learned a valuable lesson, just as I couldn’t force my voice to return, and had to submit to the doctor, obey and rely on him to get well; in a similar way, we have to submit to God, obey and rely on Him to live the Christian life.
If we don’t rely on God to live the Christian life, we may be doing more harm than good and we most certainly will become discouraged or burned out. But what about the verses in the Bible that tell us to “strive to enter the narrow door” (Luke 13:24); and to “work out your salvation” (Philippians 2:12); and to “be strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:6)? Well, it may seem like a contradiction, to strive, work and be strong; but not if we rely on the strength of the Lord and not our own. Our part is to submit and obey and His part is to empower and sanctify us.
The problem with relying on our own strength to live the Christian life is that we are weak,
limited, frail, finite, fragile and sinful. Also, whatever strength we have can be taken from us at any given moment and we can also easily be led astray.
Therefore, we need to cooperate with God and submit to the work of His Holy Spirit in us. We need to acknowledge our need for Him and His strength, which shows up best in our weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 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.” (NKJV)
"For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NLT)
We can be grateful for weakness, because it provides an opportunity for God to supply us with the courage and power that we do not possess. He will show Himself strong through a life that is fully surrendered to the Lord Jesus.
When God is our source of strength, we can trust Him to work in us to give us the power to accomplish His will.
Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (NLT)
Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (NIV)
Colossians 1:11 says, “We ask him to strengthen you by his glorious might with all the power you need to patiently endure everything with joy.” (GW)
In addition, the Bible is filled with the blessings for those who rely on the Lord for strength, and reminders of His faithfulness to supply it to those who ask.
Psalm 59:17 says, “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.” (NIV)
Psalm 138:3 says, “As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me
"The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 28:7 NLT)
Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is to admit our weakness, stop striving and simply wait on the Lord and depend on His strength.
It can be difficult to be patient sometimes, because it may seem like we are doing nothing. But that’s not true, because while we’re waiting, we can pray, worship and exercise our faith to believe that He will give us strength moment by moment as we continue to abide in Him.
Psalm 84:5 says, “Happy are the people whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” (HCSB)
Isaiah 40:29 says, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” (NLT)
John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (ESV)
Are you relying on the Lord for His strength?
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