Have you ever looked at your weaknesses (sin and corruption) and wondered how in the world people have any respect for you? It is often easy to look on the bad side, and unfortunately it is even easier to become discouraged and even depressed by looking at our sin, but this is an ungodly response, and not what God wants of us. Here are 4 ways to turn spiritual weaknesses into strengths.
Let your weaknesses humble you.
We tend to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. Often this is because we compare ourselves to other people and we see those people’s weakness, which makes us feel better that we don’t have them. Yet, this is foolish. When we stand before God in judgement, He won’t be considering our thoughts, desires and actions compared to other sinful, fallen people, but in comparison to His perfect law. We should do the same.[shareable]God… won’t be considering our thoughts, desires and actions compared with other sinful, fallen people.[/shareable]
When we look at ourselves through the perfect law, we see that we are not what we ought to be. This should humble us. By humble, I mean we should see ourselves as lowly, though not worthless. We must recognize that we were created in God’s image and therefore we have value to God as image bearers. But the divine image God created us to bear has been corrupted by our sin. There should be a tension in our humility, a tension between the value of God’s image and its devaluing and defilement by our sin. This devaluing should break our hearts and cause us shame. We’ve corrupted God’s image! But the mercy and grace of God gives us hope!
Let your weaknesses change you
It is the hope that comes from the mercy of God that should drive us forward. On the one hand, we cannot resolve our sin, but God Himself saves us according to His mercy through the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). But then in addition, he provides us with the grace to change. In Eph 1:13-14 Paul explains that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise and that this is “to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1 is a chapter focusing on the grace of God, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is one of the components of His grace.
In Philippians, Paul adds that God (in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit) is working in you, “to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). Paul explains that our task is to work with the Holy Spirit (Phil 2:12). We are to work with fear and trembling because it is God who is at work in us. The Lord is working toward our sanctification, and calls us to work with Him to this end. When we know and recognize our sin and corruption, we can do this. When we are ignorant, we cannot.
If God has granted His mercy and grace to us (and His grace extends far beyond the indwelling Holy Spirit), then we are not simply the sum total of our corruption! We have a new identity and a new ability to overcome sin and to no longer be ruled by it.
Let your weaknesses guide you
Therefore, our weaknesses should be a catalyst for specific change. Having a target we can focus on that target and go after it with clarity and specificity. This specificity can become a guide, though not in the “follow your heart” sense. Firstly it should guide us to confess our sins (1 John 1:9), and change our mind about this sin.
Specific sin and corruption also provides a starting point by which we can examine the scripture. If we follow the trail from our sin through scripture we will find out why, what and how specifically we need to change. In this sense it can guide us to increased godliness. [shareable]Specific sin and corruption provides a starting point by which we can examine the scripture[/shareable]
Unfortunately, most people simply don’t do this. Often we don’t even look at our sin and corruption. When others confront us, or when conflict occurs, we stop and get upset – often at the one pointing out our sin. But the Lord allows these conflicts to occur in our lives because He knows our corruption and He wants us to see it too, and then change biblically.
Let your weaknesses cause you to trust in the Lord
Finally, our sin cannot exceed the grace of God, and it certainly cannot exceed the mercy of God. It is His grace and mercy that the Lord wants to show off for all eternity – and sinful people like you and I are the vessels he has chosen to show it off (Eph 2:7, Rom 9:22-23). God wants to forgive because He is glorified when He forgives rebellious sinners. God wants to change and cleanse us because He is glorified as His image (particularly His character) becomes evident in us. We were made to have a relationship with the Lord, so He is also glorified when we pay attention to what He says (i.e. listen to Him) and pray (i.e. talk to Him).
This gives us reason to have great confidence to find, confront and address our sin and corruption in our lives. Not only do we benefit by sanctification, so do others around us, and so does the Lord.
If you’re encountering conflict, let it be a catalyst to identify any sin in your heart (use these questions to help). Be brutal with yourself, knowing that the mercy and grace of the Lord will be there to catch you and change you.
[reminder]How have you turned spiritual weaknesses into strengths?[/reminder]