For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
So . . . how strong is this strange strength in you? The wisdom of the world says we are to show no weakness and admit no deficiency, because the world belongs to the strong and only the strong survive! The wisdom of the Word says we are weak—so call upon the strength of the Lord! “He gives power to the faint,” Isaiah proclaimed, “and to him who has no might he increases strength: (Isaiah 40:29).
Yet far too many Christians spend their time trying to showcase their own strength and impress in the eyes of the watching world. Scripture has warnings for those who do this.
Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength.
They will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god. (Habakkuk 1:11)
We are always confronted with two choices in life. We can seek to find our strength in our flesh . . . or in our faith. We can trust in ourselves or we can trust in our Lord.
Peter was trusting in his own strength as he responded to Jesus at the Last Supper. Jesus spoke to His disciples of His impending suffering and their full-scale retreat, but Peter objected, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” How long did Peter’s fleshly strength last? Until a servant girl chased him into a dark corner of the courtyard while calling down curses on himself and denying his Lord, not once, but three times: “I do not know the man!”
It is only when we understand Peter’s story to be our story can that we can begin to admit our weaknesses and walk in them confidently—because of the One who walks with us. Peter learned the hard way just how weak he really was and just how much he needed the strength of his Savior. And we need to learn this lesson too! We deny our Lord daily in a variety of ways: impatience, fear, doubt, critical spirit, gossip, grumbling, complaining, anger, unforgiveness . . . and it is in our weakness where His power is perfected. Denying our weakness is not a sign of strength; it is a façade for cowardice.
We must receive the truth Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 12:9—“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Now that is a strange strength we can count on, regardless of the circumstances we face.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!