1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
As you read these words taken from 1 Corinthians 16:13, what emotions come to mind and what experiences have you had with them? “Be strong” could have been said over you as a child when tears began to well up in your eyes. This phrase may have consumed your mind when faced with a tragedy that you couldn’t control. Maybe the word “strong” is a reminder that you’ll never measure up to the “man’s-man” that sits next to you at church.
For me, “be strong” has a tendency to bring about powerful feelings of shame and pain. I often feel that I can’t be strong enough for my wife and kids. I believe I can’t handle the emotional, physical, and spiritual responsibilities that I bear. It’s in this struggle that I am reminded that I have been duped to believe that strength comes from within myself. This is a belief that has plagued many of us. The belief that we must handle it alone and not ask for help. We are encouraged to flaunt our strength and never show weakness. Even worse, this behavior is taught to the generations that follow.
The Bible is bursting with teachings that contradict this kind of thinking. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we see Paul choosing to boast not in his strength but in his weakness. When we empty our prideful self-sufficient cup, we leave room for God to fill it with the strength that only He provides. It’s in this strength that we truly can face and overcome the challenges before us. Remember, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you! (Romans 8:11). With that kind of truth, there is no limit on what we can accomplish with Him.
My hope and prayer is that as we pursue strength, that we would remember the source and attributes of Godly strength. By pursuing these, we can be a beacon of hope to other men that are silently wasting away in their own “strength”. We can teach our kids and the young minds around us that we don’t adhere to culture’s view of strength but of God’s. We can choose to foster healthy emotions and humility because Jesus did, and never compromised his integrity or strength. May your walk with Jesus be blessed, and may you grow in His strength!