Depending on God
When we are weak, we see His strength
by Waitsel Smith
Here's how dependent we are on God: "Apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) Here's how dependent Jesus was on God: "The Son can do nothing by Himself: He can only do what He sees His father doing." (John 5:19)
Sounds like a little child, doesn't it?
In Matthew 18:1-4 and 19:13-15, Jesus' disciples were arguing over which among them would be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ said, "...unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
What does that mean? He goes on to explain: "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."
How does a child humble himself? Instead of faith, courage and spiritual strength (all signs of maturity), he is weak, dependent, eager to learn, unafraid to ask, hungry, small, spiritually bankrupt, looking for someone to help, imitative of big people, trusting.
At one time, Moses was the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3). But he didn't start out that way. He spent forty years in the desert because he tried to take the deliverance of Israel into his own hands. But during that time, God prepared his heart to do things His way. Moses ended up as a man God could work with, and as a friend, with whom God spoke face-to-face.
I have spent forty years in my own spiritual wilderness because I tried to take spiritual matters (my salvation, as well as that of others) into my own hands. But God has used that to prepare my heart to do things His way. I just hope I end up as half the man Moses was, and that I, too, can speak with God face-to-face.
Lord, don't let me harden my heart through the deceitfulness of sin the way the Children of Israel did – let me listen to Your voice and obey. Don't let me use my freedom for an occasion to sin – let me serve others in love. Don't let me just write these words and then forget them – write them through Your Spirit on the table of my heart.
Paul was another man that God used dynamically, but he, too, had to go through a period of transformation. In II Corinthians 12, he talks about part of that process, and how he ended up boasting in his weaknesses. The reason Paul rejoiced in his weaknesses was because those were the areas in which he had to depend on God. God gives us weaknesses so we will have to depend on Him. That's why He doesn't always heal or take them away. That's why He told Paul that His grace was sufficient for him.
God wants us to have weaknesses, He wants us to have to depend on Him. And yet, we have a culture that encourages us toward self-help, self improvement and self-protection. We have insurance policies, bank accounts and securities for everything in our lives. If we're constantly trying to help, improve and protect ourselves, we don't need God; and if we don't need God, how can we ever expect to have a relationship with Him, the way Moses and Paul did. One of the biggest lies ever propagated in the name of Christianity is "God helps those who help themselves." No He doesn't – He helps those who depend on Him for help.
"I love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help. He heard my voice out of His Temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears." Psalm 18:1,2,3,6
God's grace is sufficient for anything we will ever need. If we want to see God's grace in our lives, we have to learn to rely on Him in our areas of weakness. That's what He wants. The more weaknesses God gives us, the more He want us to depend on Him. The more we depend on Him, the more we will see His grace in our lives and know Him as our truest and best friend.
Waitsel Smith, November 14, 2005; August 22, 2007
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Text © 2007 Waitsel Smith. Image "Christ Healing the Sick" by Rembrandt. All Rights Reserved.