Not much to look at…

Read: 2 Cor 4

I don’t like being weak, and I certainly don’t like being perceived as weak. So I engage in the stupidity of covering up. It is a clumsy attempt to project some other reality, one of relative strength and having it together.

I think I shortchange God when I do this. Paul was a man who was in touch with his weakness. I can imagine his CV saying ‘excellent education under Gamaliel, and later, Jesus himself, but I am not much to listen to, and i have several persistent and debilitating personal issues…’ Would you hire someone like that?

When I seek to give the impression of strength, the focus is on me, and the Gospel is masked. We have all seen mega churches which advertise their senior pastors with larger than life airbrushed images. What images might there have been outside Paul’s church (even though he was regional and itinerant, and not bound to a ‘church building’). A cross? A gallows and noose? A broken terra cotta pot? A picture of disability?

Weakness is God’s favourite work context

God uses weakness to reveal the beauty of his grace and character. This may unnerve us. Even so, that is how it is. He chose weak and underdeveloped Israel. Abraham and Sarah were old and past it. Moses was not a great speaker. David was too small for a soldier’s armour. Jesus was viewed as a reject, and gathered other rejects to himself. The cross is seen as foolishness. Jesus’ followers, small in number and uneducated, were given the task of making disciples of all nations.

Weakness is God’s favourite work context. Weakness is how he perfectly shows his power (2 Cor 12:9).

So I have my weaknesses and so do you. I should not feed them, thinking that a worse situation will end up being a context for greater power. That’s like sinning more to get more grace (Rom 6:1).

So while I work on my weaknesses, I will simply pray that God’s grace and power will be at work despite my weaknesses. I will pray that God’s work, God’s character, and God’s grace might be more clearly seen. That my work, my character or gifts might not be the focus.

I am a jar of clay. A cracked clay pot. So let the treasure of grace and the wonder of Christ be more clearly seen.

Q: How might God use your specific weaknesses and frustrations to reveal his power today?

If you’d like further encouragement to be open about your weaknesses, check out Michael Hyatt’s excellent piece, published yesterday: ‘Tell Your Story, The Good and The Bad’

Are you standing in God’s council?

Read Jeremiah 23

This is a sobering read. God’s prophets were using their power unjustly, and the God whose words they should be speaking has a broken heart and trembling bones because of their unfaithfulness (23:9,10). These prophets are speaking grand words among their friends (23:25,35,36). It’s funny how the words they had crafted for the ears of people, prophecies they had staked their future, are nothing more than delusions (23:26). Who would work so hard for a delusion?Why invest so much energy in a vapour?

Is this the cult of personality? Popularity’s trap? It’s an easy one to fall into. Any preacher or leader knows how good it is to feel words like ‘wonderful message, great sermon, terrific decision’ slap us on the back. It can have us chasing the affirmation, intoxicated by the stream of positive strokes. It’s easy, isn’t it, to seek endorsement of people instead of following God and saying what he wants us to say.

I don’t think anyone rolls out of bed one morning saying, ‘I think today I’m going to start to be a lying prophet.’ These things happen incrementally. They are the amalgam of a thousand prior decisions, each of them minuscule on their own, but adding up over time to represent a totally different direction, a changed value, a new behaviour. Only rarely are these changes for the better.

the temptation to give our own message is always present

Jer 23:22 shows us the better way, ‘If only they had stood in my council…’. If only the first decision each day would be to hear God through his word, to discern his better and best way, to hear his voice. His affirmation and his honour are paramount. Seeking this, we are will do a better job of speaking His word.

Q: Are the affirmations you are receiving leading you deeper into God’s will and council? What might need to change?