Have you ever felt weak when you were trying to go from bad to good? I was watching a television show, the episode was about a man on death row who was facing imminent execution. The dramatic effect was that he was more than likely not guilty of the crime of which he was accused. He was by no means an innocent man. By his own admission he did drugs, robbed, and all together led a bad life. However, as it turned out, he did not commit the crime for which he was being executed.
Something he said really struck me. Facing his execution he said, “I was a bad man but now I have to be a strong man.” Now, I may be reading too much into it but it is a television show and as such is open to some interpretation. His comment made me think of the thought process that led him to make the statement. He was a bad man and through Bible study the prison chaplain convinced him he needed to be a good man. However, the falsely accused did not think he would be able to be a good man. So, he decided to be strong and face his death so as to negate the misspent life that he had lived. Ultimately the call from the governor did not come and the man was executed. He remained strong and he finished his task. In the end he trusted in his own strength, such as it was, and had no comfort from a caring creator.
I wonder if Christians do that? They know that they used to be bad but are convinced that they can not be good so they just try to be strong trusting in their own strength to live as close to what the Bible says as they can. Sadly this is not the full life that Jesus was talking about when He articulated the reason He had come (John 10:10). We have not been given the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). God expects us to be powerful players in this world (2 Timothy 1:7).
Have you ever been overwhelmed with the idea of no longer being bad while also knowing you are too weak to be good? I suppose this would cause someone to just be as strong as they can, all the while feeling helpless and afraid and never sure of their own salvation. I propose that there is some help here.
The apostle, Paul, used to be a bad man. It is my opinion that his thorn in the flesh was his memories of all the times when he was a bad man and not being able to reconcile his new life in Christ with that painful past. He went to Jesus three times to see if this thorn could be removed (2 Corinthians 12:8). The words of comfort he received was that grace was sufficient for him (2 Corinthians 12:9). These words should help us today. When you, I, feel too weak to be good then we must lean on the grace of Jesus and take comfort in knowing we can be strong because, as Paul said, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). I wonder if it was trusting in the strength and grace of God that Paul was able to forget those things that were behind him and reach forth to those things that were ahead of him “pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Knowing that leaning upon the grace of Jesus makes us strong will help us endure anything that comes our way. We can be those powerful players without the spirit of fear as we walk this world (2 Timothy 1:7). I think of what a young man said in a devo talk at camp, if we lean on God during the trying times we can tear though our problems like paper. God bless him and God bless you. When we are weak, then we are strong. Be strong!