The Beauty of Weakness

I just finished a wonderful time of discussion with some others and the dominant theme was the reality of how we struggle and stumble in sin. The hard reality is that we are not as strong as we would like to admit and admitting it is very difficult for us. The reason is pride, we hate to look like we really are. But there is another aspect that came to my mind that factors into this whole thing, it is a failure to recognize that there is a reason we are weak.  Allow me to explain.

2 Corinthians 4:6-9   “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;  we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Above is a fascinating passage that speaks much to the need of our day in America.  We are a people who have embraced victimhood and made it an art form.  One only needs to sit in the average prayer meeting to hear the pettiness of the prayers and the earthly nature of our concerns.  This passage challenges the very deadening thought that God must heal us, fix our problems, make our marriage happy, bring in a good income, and the such before we can effectively serve Him.

This passage tells us many things that need to be heard and heeded.  May this short message give the reader pause and perhaps may prayers of confession rise to our Father in heaven as we confess our love of health, comfort, and personal ability rather than the glory of being weak.

Verse 7 tells us we posses a treasure.  This is a fact for a believer, not a command.  What treasure do we possess right now?  Verse 6 tells us that it is the knowledge of God.  How is it seen?  It is found in His Son, who dwells in us.  And it is the Father who has placed this saving, justifying, sanctifying, soul-satisfying knowledge within us.  And if we were to stop right there and go no further, we could easily believe this is all really cool and have a nice praise gathering where we get excited about our Lord and then go on about our lives.  But this passage tells us much more.  And what it tells us can be quite uncomfortable for us to consider.

This treasure is in us, but we are earthen vessels.  Note that description, clay pots.  Not golden chalices, not silver vats, not massive oak chests—just specialized dirt. The imagery is one of weakness.  In that time, the clay pot was not a thing artsy people made to sit on a mantel to show off.  The clay pot was used for the day to day business of cooking, washing, holding flour, and yes, it was even  their night-time toilet.  It was, in other words, a very common tool.  And when one was broken, it was tossed aside and another one made or purchased.

Now, notice in verse 7 that there is a reason for this decision by God.  The word “that” speaks of the purpose of having us be simple clay pots.  It is so that the glory of God great power might be seen clearly.  Note that very carefully.  Paul makes is very clear that the reason this is done is so that we are not the focus.  Though we speak much about this idea of decreasing and God increasing; our prayers and actions often show the very opposite.

This is not saying that God makes us strong by pouring His strength into us, making us strong.  Instead, God keeps us weak and through that continued weakness He manifests His power through our continuing weakness.  This requires the preacher to embrace his weakness and by faith believe that God shall manifest his power as I remain weak.  If I am desiring the manifestation of God’s glory and power rather than my own, then I shall delight in this.  But if I really desire my own glory, then I shall always be resisting the weakness that is inherent in my life.

May we learn to rejoice in our weakness rather than rebel against it.  May we begin to serve in our weaknesses rather than waiting until we are strong.  May we long to have the power of God shine forth by being clay pots.

About Matt Henry

Middle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.

Posted on March 24, 2012, in Bible Observations, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Matt..Please clarify something for me. .I’ve heard that those weaknesses and infirmities are designed by God (Psalm 139) as a part of who we are in the sense that God might be glorified (by Himself) through our weakness. Not that it’s a comfort, and not that it’s true…I would like to hear you comment. I’ll settle for the short answer here if it’s appropriate.

    • JP, you would have to elaborate before I could give you a decent response. I am unsure where Psalm 139 comes into this, is it that it is God who has made us and therefore He has made us each with certain weaknesses that His glory might be manifest? If so, depending on what how that is received by a person I could agree. In other words, absolutely there are not ‘mistakes’ in us regarding how God made us. On the other hand, all infirmities are a result the presence of sin and will be wiped out at the resurrection. Since I am unsure what is meant here, I am only really flailing around though–fortunately I am good at that!

  2. I was discussing with a friend today about anxiety, and my heart’s tendency to focus on my needs being met before I can adequately or confidently serve God & others. So many errors in those assumptions(so many sins!) If I believe these lies, I can serve God, others and myself sure(mostly self), but it is all wood, hay & stubble. And the truth of God is in none of it.

    • Yes Gaila! It is truly a challenge for me to turn my mind away from self-centeredness when I so often tend to worship myself.

  3. Yes Matt…that was the inference, that God somehow “engineered” weaknesses into our personal make-up so that He could manifest His power through us despite them……I’ll settle for the short answer and flailing….Thanks. JP

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