Remember the old holiday classic "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer"? In one scene, Rudolph's misfit elf friend Hermey, who wanted to be a dentist, says to Rudolph, "Hey, what do you say we both be independent together." It's funny when you think about it because independence is contrary to togetherness.
Hermey's comment is indicative of the independent mindset of our culture. We pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Frank Sinatra's well-known song "I Did It My Way" is the motto of our society. And this has crept into the church because we've allowed the world to squeeze us into it's mould, contrary to what God clearly tells us in Scripture(Romans 12:2, J.B. Phillips).
In other words, we cannot think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We are not independent of God. We are completely dependent on God "for 'In him we live and move and have our being’; (Acts 17:28). And furthermore, in bearing fruit, apart from Christ, we can do nothing(John 15:5).
Our sufficiency is in Christ alone. The apostle Paul learned that lesson during a time of personal difficulty in his life.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
The contrasting term "But" reveals to us from the context that, even though Paul was going through a difficult time(verses 7-8), God used this in his life to teach him a valuable lesson. This is the risen, ascended, exalted and glorious Lord speaking to Him, not the Jesus in His humiliation as the Suffering Servant during His incarnation. So this gives even more weight to what Christ tells him . And what was the valuable lesson that the Lord taught him? He unequivocally declares to Paul that His grace is sufficient, that is, His power is made perfect in weakness.
Christ's grace, all-sufficient, for any trouble. Christ's power, perfected, in the midst of weakness. Paul's response was 2 fold, to gladly boast of his weaknesses and to be content in the midst of difficulties. And why? Because that is when the power of Christ is most manifest.
Can you readily say with the apostle Paul, "For when I am weak, then I am strong"?
Do you readily acknowledge your total dependence on the Lord?
Are you doing it your own way?
Are you content with your weaknesses and hardships?
Do you boast gladly of your weaknesses?
Do you boast of your own strength?
When trials come your way, are you thankful for them, knowing that it is an opportunity for Christ to manifest His all-sufficient grace and perfect power?
Do you grumble and complain, wondering "Why is this happening to me?"
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
Hariton Deligiannides is the pastor of Mendon Communiy Church. Pastor Hariton proclaims the truth of Scripture in order to help people come to a knowledge of the truth, namely that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, and to then get grounded and rooted in the deep truths of Scripture.