The Value of Weakness and Its Contribution to Our Success

I would like to start this article with an excerpt from an article written for the benefit of those desiring to succeed in business.

Stop Overdoing Your Strengths

   by Robert E. Kaplan  and Robert B. Kaiser 

      From the February 2009 Issue of the Harvard Business Review

“The conventional wisdom in leadership development circles is that you should discover and capitalize on your strengths, assuming that they are aligned with some organizational need. No matter how hard you work on certain weaknesses, the logic goes, chances are you’ll make only marginal progress. Don’t waste too much time overcoming flaws; better to focus on what you do best and surround yourself with people who have complementary strengths.”

Let us review a couple of biblical passages that discuss a quality God defines as weakness.

Heb 4:15  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Rom 6:1  What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2
 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

So, in some circles of the business world, the recommendation is not to waste time on overcoming weaknesses, but, instead, focus on improving strengths to contribute to the success of your company.

The Bible would agree that we need to take advantage of our strengths, but it discusses weakness from different perspectives, so we will discuss three of those perspectives, today. From this we will learn whether or not the Bible agrees with business models on the subject of weakness.

Going one chapter further, we will learn how the Apostle Paul viewed his own sins…

Rom 7:14  For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Rom 7:15  For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
Rom 7:16  If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.
Rom 7:17  But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Rom 7:18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
Rom 7:19  For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
Rom 7:20  Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Rom 7:21  I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
Rom 7:22  For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
Rom 7:23  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24  O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

The power of sin in a converted Christian is incontrovertible, and Paul’s emotional declaration makes this clear. The Apostle John will corroborate this more simply.

1Jn 1:8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

And for anybody who has followed the process of repentance, been baptized, and received God’s Holy Spirit, the wretchedness (to reference Paul) of sin is all the more glaring. So, when we sin, we feel the pain of sin worse than before conversion. We know a heartfelt contrast between choosing a lawful behavior and an unlawful behavior.

We know and feel this because:

  1. We have become convinced that behavior, both good and bad, has consequence as defined by God alone.
  2. We have felt the joy of salvation, now knowing without a doubt what it means to be made clean through Christ.
  3. We have had the heartfelt experience of being blessed as we walk in the Spirit of Christ. In other words, we have truly experienced God’s righteousness, exposing the vast expanse that exists between carnality and godliness.

Rom 8:6  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Rom 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
Rom 8:8  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Rom 8:9  But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Rom 8:10  And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Rom 8:11  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit which dwells in you.

So, one category of “weakness” is that we are still capable of sinning, but when we sin, we now have an understanding of the value of righteousness which only fuels (like a wildfire) our desire to overcome. This creates greater strength to overcome. But let’s look further into weakness, another kind of weakness that, by being revealed, creates strength in us as we reflect God’s strength.

2Co 12:7  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
2Co 12:8  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.
2Co 12:9  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2Co 12:10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Here we see “weakness” in terms of suffering physically, and not just through infirmity (like poor eyesight), but reproaches, lack of resources, persecutions, and distresses, not because of any evil we’ve done, but for Christ’s sake.

What does, “for Christ’s sake,” mean? Because we are believers and doers of the word, we will at times be mistreated by a world that thinks us to be fools. We may struggle with a lack of resources or from infirmity that on the surface reduces our ability to perform the will of God, yet Christ in us, by the Spirit of God, can still do as great a series of works or greater in spite of all these challenges.

So weakness to this point is described as both weakness for making mistakes and also weakness to accentuate the power of God. But there’s one other innuendo I would classify as weakness, and it’s a comparative weakness to other humans.

1Co 1:18  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1Co 1:20  Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1Co 1:21  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
1Co 1:22  For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;
1Co 1:23  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
1Co 1:24  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1Co 1:25  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1Co 1:26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
1Co 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
1Co 1:28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
1Co 1:29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
1Co 1:30  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—
1Co 1:31  that, as it is written, “HE WHO GLORIES, LET HIM GLORY IN THE LORD.”

This may not be true across the board among the saints, and I would prefer not to be the person to classify you as such, for God can and has called naturally wise, mighty, and noble people. But, speaking for myself, I am not one of those people, and my weakness in comparison to many in the world is another opportunity for God to show His power to convert, His power to provide wisdom, and successfully utilize people otherwise uninclined to do mighty works or carry out noble acts.

So, none of us wants to be weak. All of us desire to perform at our highest capacity, and we would even like to improve upon our strengths, but the truth of the matter is that we live in a weakened state in this age of man. And, because of this, our natural response, then, is to despise weakness, and, truly, in the case of the first point, we MUST despise sin. But, even that particular weakness is an avenue to strength found in God. These three weaknesses, therefore, are priceless and through them we can grow strong in the Lord. To summarize:

  1. Our weakness for sin is our repeated reminder of the value of God’s righteousness and provision, for by the power of God’s Spirit in us, we are provided a clear vision of the distinction between sin and righteousness, and by that same power we can and must overcome so that this body of cursed flesh can be changed by God to Spirit life.
  2. Our weakness through trial for Christ’s sake creates an avenue for us to become strong by the power of God to endure and continue to reflect His righteousness. Our physical weakness becomes, spiritually, the contrary, our strength.
  3. And, finally, as a rule of thumb, our weaknesses in comparison to the strengths found among other humans in this world is an opportunity to reveal God’s mighty power to convert even the weak of the world, which also confounds the wisdom, might, and nobility of the world. God’s work in us, the weak, provides a future hope for the remainder of mankind.

You see, in spite of all these forms of weakness, we have full confidence that we have God’s mercy and His favor. We have a Savior who has lived our struggles, yet without sin, so these definitions of weakness are priceless to our conversion, our testimony, and our salvation.

In the end, these weaknesses, then, all significantly contribute to reflecting God’s strength while developing our strength, by the Spirit of God, learning to make decisions and take actions based on loving God with our whole being and loving all humans as ourselves, whether they be our neighbors, strangers, or even our enemies. May we all take pleasure in physical weakness, like the Apostle Paul, as God’s strength becomes our strength to overcome and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, and we then become the poster children of the might and power of God to save imperfect man.

Concepts to contemplate from these three forms of weakness can include God’s power draw us to Him, including thinking and behaving like Him, God’s ability to witness to others through us, and God’s power to save anybody who’s willing to be saved, hence the revelation found in the epistle of Titus where we find the fullness of God’s desire for mankind.

1Ti 2:1  Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
1Ti 2:2  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
1Ti 2:3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
1Ti 2:4  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Adapted from a message by a similar title given on February 29, 2020…

The Value of Weakness and Its Contribution to Your Success

Image of Kelly Irvin
Delivering the message to the congregation.

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