Recently in my life, I have been up against different challenges that have tested my humility. As our generation advances in technology, education, and especially possessions, we are constantly comparing who we are and what we have to others. Also, at times we may feel so inclined to think better of ourselves if we know others have less. I know I am guilty of feeling this way; I have struggled with it for a long time.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. …” (Philippians 2:3-11)
Ever since I was young, when people gave me compliments, it would go to my head. I think I may have had low self-esteem, and I constantly wanted to feel better about myself so I would judge other people based on things that I had and they didn’t. Then, when they had things that I didn’t have, I would try to make myself sound better or I wouldn’t lift them up about the gifts that God gave them. This, to this day, is constantly a weakness I struggle with. As I’ve grown in my faith, I have learned that “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). When we feel the urge to want to boast or think little of others, we must decrease of ourselves and increase in God’s love and compassion for them instead.
Since I have been challenged recently with my strength in humility, I read an article from Mr. John Piper, he wrote it in 2014, but it has an eternal meaning. He explained that we should not waste our weakness.
“A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12: 8-10).
This passage, holds a lot of meaning. Paul mentions four purposes for his weaknesses: 1) to keep him from being conceited, 2) God’s power is made perfect in weakness, 3) The power of Christ may rest upon him, and 4) When he is weak, God is strong. John Piper explained that “Even though this weakness of the thorn is called “a messenger of Satan,” the purposes are clearly not Satan’s. Satan does not want Christ’s power to be made perfect! God does. So God is overruling Satan’s design with his own. In other words, wherever the Christian’s weaknesses come from, they have a God-given purpose. They are not fortuitous. We can sum up the purpose of Paul’s weakness like this: securing Paul’s humility and showing Christ’s power. That’s why God made sure Paul had weaknesses — to keep him “from becoming conceited” and to give him a more obvious experience of the power of Christ resting on him.”
I felt so Enlighted reading Mr. Piper’s article, I had never thought of a weakness this way before. I never thought of it as a strength or a gift for that matter. I learned that we must learn to be humble and magnify the power of Christ. This is an important part of being able to identify and exploit our weaknesses.
For an example, Mr. Piper gave an example for his life where he has always been a slow reader and that he took classes, studied techniques, and read books trying to overcome this “weakness”.” He realized that “it meant first that I accept this as God’s design for my life. I will never read fast. It meant I stop complaining about it. It meant that I take my love for reading and do with it what I can for the glory of Christ. If I can only read slowly, I will do all I can to read deeply. I will exploit slowness. I will ask Jesus to show me more in reading little than many see in reading much. I will ask Jesus to magnify his power in making my slowness more fruitful than speed.” We should all look at our weaknesses in this way. After you read this blog post, I hope that you will choose to take time to identify and exploit your weaknesses. I will also work on exploiting my weaknesses, so that we together can magnify the power of Christ.
In closing, if we angrily resent God for giving us weaknesses we would waste them. Mr. Piper encourages us to “not focus too much on finding your strengths. Give attention to identifying and exploiting your weaknesses. God has not given them to you in vain. Identify them. Accept them. Exploit them. Magnify the power of Christ with them. Don’t waste your weaknesses.” Also, I used a lot of information directly from Mr. John Piper’s article, but if you feel so inclined and empowered to read his full article about not wasting your weaknesses I will put the link here: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/don-t-waste-your-weaknesses-in-2014.