AthleteWord: Champions take great joy in knowing the GIFT of God can never be earned, deserved or returned.
Where does our strength to serve come from? Is strength earned or given? What about our unique talents? Were they earned or given? We know we can gain strength through training, but where did our ability and wisdom to train come from? Competitors for Christ train with the understanding that everything good comes from God (James 1:17).
- What are your strengths? What do you do well?
- What are your weaknesses? What keeps you from being successful? What are the areas of your training that must improve if you hope to experience success?
We believe all strength is a gift from God, and we have been given these strengths to honor God and serve others. But, even if we believe this to be true it is very difficult to live this truth. When we fight to grow in strength it is easy to forget where our strength comes from and slip into pride. How do we grow in strength so we can serve but also remain humble before God? How do we see strength as a gift?
In the Old Testament we read of a man who learned this lesson well. Naaman was the commander of the Syrian army. He was “a great man in the king's sight and highly regarded” because of his military accomplishments. The Bible describes him as “a mighty warrior, but he had a skin disease.” Naaman had a major weakness, but it became his key to finding strength. He was powerful, wealthy, and influential, but none of these strengths could solve his problem.
A young Israelite girl who had previously been taken in war was now working in his home as a servant. This 12-year old girl held the information that could free this mighty warrior. She got word to him that her God can heal. If he would approach the true God through the prophet, Naaman could find the healing he desired. With this information Naaman quickly gathered all his strengths to purchase his healing:
1- He offered his relational strength. Since he was the Syrian king’s right-hand man, he was able to get an appointment with the king of Israel. Together they attempted to acquire Naaman's healing through intimidation. Naaman thought who he knew could fix his weakness.
2- He offered his financial strength. Naaman brought a fortune with him to purchase this healing. Since this is how everything else in the world works, why couldn’t money overcome his weakness? Naaman thought what he had could fix his weakness.
3- He offered his physical strength. Naaman thought what he could do could fix his weakness. As a mighty man of war he was extremely offended when the prophet Elisha did not even come out of his house to administer the healing. Instead he sent a servant with a simple message: “Go to the river Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”
Naaman was accustomed to earning his rewards. He didn’t receive orders, he gave them. And he certainly didn’t use seemingly meaningless actions to accomplish his goals. But after one of his own servants encouraged him to put aside his pride he obeyed the command and was healed. His servant said, “If the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?”
Our greatest weakness is our sin. We have no hope of coming to God and living eternally with him until this weakness is fixed. But our strengths cannot overcome this weakness. Like Naaman, when we finally recognize this truth we find the key to serving with strength while remaining humble. Recognizing our sin allows us to “serve in the strength that God supplies.” (1 Peter 4:11). Because of our sin we deserve weakness, but strength is always a gift. Losses may be earned, but our victories are always given through Christ.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
- How have you attempted to fix your weaknesses quickly so you can get back to your mission?
- What valuable strengths do you possess that have become a source of personal pride?
- How can you use your strengths to honor God and serve others?
- Take time to thank God for the strength He provides. Acknowledge your sin and your inability to fix your weakness. Ask God to heal your weakness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.