Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Strengths & Weaknesses

Strong & Weak

by Dennis Pollock

God does not see things the way we do. One of the classic Biblical demonstrations of this is found in the gospel of Luke where Jesus was sitting near the temple observing people as they gave their offerings into the treasury. A widow came by and dropped two "mites" into the box, the smallest coins that existed in those days. Our Lord wasted no time in using this as an object lesson for the disciples, announcing, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who havegiven to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood." In His eyes this little lady, with her "two-penny" offering, had outgiven all the rich men who had dropped much larger sums of money proudly into the treasury box. It appears that in the eyes of God, the amount of our gifts to Him is not nearly as important as the ratiobetween the amount given and the amount available to give. Giving our all, regardless of how miniscule our "all" happens to be, is far more impressive to Christ than giving a convenient portion of our all.

While we usually think of this story in terms of money, which was its context, it clearly applies to all giving to God, which would include our time and talents. This can be a tremendously liberating thought to those of us whose gifts seem far more ordinary than extraordinary. Super-talented people can be a great blessing to the church and can accomplish much good, but they can also be intimidating to ordinary folks who work ordinary jobs, live in ordinary houses, and have modest and ordinary talents. As we are mysteriously created in the womb, our Creator gives not only differing gifts, but different levels of gifts. The Bible plainly addresses this, and Paul tells us, "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…" Differing gifts and differing levels of gifts do not make us superior or inferior; they simply make us different. Grab any two people off the street and you will find that in almost every area they are not equal. One is smarter than the other, one is better looking than the other, one is more likeable than the other, one is more athletic than the other. One has red hair and the other has no hair. These people made no formal request before birth for their particular attributes, nor did their parents have any say in the matter. As the years roll by they will learn what they've been given and what has been withheld, what they can do and what they cannot possibly do.

Like the widow who gave all he had, we will be commended by the Lord, based not on how much we manage to accomplish, but on how much of ourselves and our resources we give to the Lord – in comparison with how much we had to give. And Jesus made it clear that those who are given much will be subject to a higher level of accountability: "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will berequired; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:48). Making a one dollar return on an investment of one dollar is pretty good; making a dollar return on an investment of half a million dollars is pathetic! Much more is expected of highly talented people, but all are expected to give their all to the Lord. And God accepts our service and our giving on the basis of what we have, not what we do not have. For this reason people with lesser gifts may be doing a lot better than many folks think. No doubt in this world there are some hidden champions for Christ, men and women not particularly flashy or noticeably successful, yet counted as great successes in heaven due to the whole-hearted nature of their devotion to Jesus.

Believers are identified in Scripture as the "body of Christ." The Lord Jesus has sprinkled His gifts and His anointing among His people, making sure that every Christian has at least one of His gifts operative in their lives (1 Corinthians 12:11). As we abide in Jesus and stay filled with the Holy Spirit these gifts begin to produce fruit and bring blessings to others. As long as we stay in our area of gifting all is well. But if we begin to stray and wander into areas to which we were never called, we do more harm than good. Tremendous confusion results when men and women try to be something they are not. One famous evangelist, who desperately seems to want to be a teacher, has taught that Adam and Eve could fly, that Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel out of her side, that there are nine persons in the Godhead, and that Jesus' blood did not come from Mary but directly from God. Leaving the simplicity of his evangelistic calling, he often moves into the realm of speculation, imagination, and nonsense. May the Lord save us from trying to be that which He has never called us to be! 

Weakness 

weak weighlifterThus far we have been primarily discussing gifts and strengths, but we need recognize one more important truth – not only are we born with unique strengths and talents, we likewise come into the world with weaknesses and areas of fragility. Once again, these are not things we asked for, or in which we had any determining vote. What may come very easily and naturally for one person may prove a tremendous struggle for another. Consider two young men at a party. The first loves parties and is completely at home. You see him everywhere, talking, laughing, and telling hilarious stories. He effortlessly blends in with any group, and is having the time of his life. The other man arrived at the party with terrible apprehension. Who will he talk with? What will he say? He awkwardly walks up to a group and tries to join in the conversation, but his words stumble out of his mouth and everyone looks at him curiously. After his failed attempt he decides he will just stand and listen, and laugh politely when someone says something witty. He is absolutely miserable and can't wait until he can go home and watch television.

Now it is the next day. Those same two men share a college course in algebra. Now it is the first man's time to feel uncomfortable. The teacher is going on and on about logarithms, and he hasn't the slightest idea what she is talking about. He strains to try to make sense of it all, but it is to no avail. His mind is in a fog. Dread fills his heart as he contemplates the major exam next week, knowing he will surely fail. The second man follows the teacher's instruction without difficulty, even working practice problems on his desk as she talks. He is in his element. He not only understands math; he actually enjoys it! The coming exam holds no terror for him. He has never failed a math test in his life. 

Different 

The apostle Paul asks the question: "Who makes you differ from another?" The answer, of course, is God. And while it wouldn't be proper for us to call our weaknesses "gifts of God," clearly God providentially oversees the process of our conception and development in the womb that makes us who we are. It would seem more equitable if our strengths and weaknesses came in equal amounts, but the reality is that some people seem to have huge gifts and minor weaknesses, while others possess pretty mild talents with massive, highly conspicuous weaknesses. Some people come into this world with far more to overcome than others. Imagine two runners of about equal ability. But just before the race the first runner is forced to put on a fifty pound pack, while the other runs wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. Regardless of his efforts and good intentions, there is no way the first runner will be able to keep up with the second. He is doomed from the start to finish far behind.

In the race of life, we all wear packs on our backs, but some packs are much heavier than others. One person is born physically ugly and finds it much harder to make friends and get jobs than others. Another speaks with a stutter, another is painfully shy, another is mentally slow. When such people look at others who seem to have all the attributes they lack, it is easy to feel they have been short-changed, or that life (or even God) is unfair. Why is their pack so heavy while others seem to have such a light pack? If this earthly life is all there is, then they would be right. Life would truly be unfair.But the Bible tells us that this earthly life is merely a preliminary for the real life that is to come. We may be forced to wear some pretty heavy packs during this life, but those who are Christ's will one day live in his presence and the pack will be removed, never to be put on again.

We must remember that God is a God of consolation. Where He asks us to endure hardship and lack, we can be sure He has some pretty fantastic consolations to balance everything out. Some of those consolations are experienced in this life. The Bible tells us that when God composed the body of Christ, He gave greater honor to the "less honorable" parts (1 Corinthians 12:24). There is a special grace given to God's children who are forced to wear the heaviest packs. God is very creative, and that blessing will be different for different individuals, but if you feel you are one of the "less honorable" parts of the body of Christ, look for special blessings and special grace to appear in your life.

Ultimate Consolation 

But the greatest consolations will be in the next life. Jesus told the story of an uncaring rich man who lived with a diseased beggar named Lazarus at his gate, and never attempted to help him. Finally both men died. The rich man found himself in Hades, while the beggar was taken to "Abraham's bosom." The rich man was in terrible torment and asked Abraham to send the (former) beggar to bring him a drop of water to cool his tongue, as he suffered in the flames. But Abraham told him, "In your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented." No doubt while on earth the rich man thought his position infinitely superior to the poor beggar, but in the light of eternity, he was the poorer man. All the riches he would ever enjoy were compressed in a puny 70 years or so, while Lazarus would enjoy his riches forever. God's consolations in Jesus Christ are well worth any wait!

While in this world of hardship and struggle God simply asks that we give Him our all. The amount that turns out to be is not so important – it is the percentage that counts. And those, who for mysterious reasons we cannot understand, are forced to carry heavy burdens that others will never experience, are asked to persevere. The finish line is ahead; the burden will be lifted. In the grueling 26 mile marathon races, there sometimes emerges an unlikely hero. It is not the man who comes in first. It is the man who was injured during the race, but determined to carry on and finish the event. He finishes behind almost everybody. He does not approach the finish running triumphantly with ease, with a big smile on his face. Instead he limps across the finish line, with the pain he has endured etched across his features. But often he receives the greatest applause of all. The onlookers know what he has endured, and a great swell of admiration and applause sweeps across the crowd.

I think heaven is going to be a bit like that. There most likely will be some unexpected spiritual heroes, men and women that may not have impressed too many while on earth, but will gain the applause of the saints and the angels for bravely enduring the hardships and weaknesses they were forced to carry throughout their lives. Their life on earth was not a lot of fun, but they trusted in Christ and did the best they could with what they had been given. As they limp across that finish line which separates earth from heaven the Lord Jesus will be there to meet them. They may have received little praise while on earth, but on that Day they will hear the best commendation of all: "Well done, good and faithful servant!"




For a full listing of all devos (written and audio) go to our Devos Catalog Page.

     

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