Monday, August 11, 2008

Boast in your weakness

Why would I follow up my last post, "Be strong in the Lord," with a paradoxical statement like "boast in your weakness?" Be strong in the Lord and boast in your weakness. Hmm. "Paradox," of course means "a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true." These statements, to some, may seem to be contradictory... but yet it all adds up!

In my last post, and in the links I provided for my previous posts that went along with that post, one thing that I was aiming at was showing how everything that has to do with us being "strong in the Lord" is the result of God's grace, and His gifts to us. In no way, shape or form is it our own human strength that we're relying upon. Our own strength, compared to the strength we have in the Lord, is really nothing more than weakness.

Which leads us to boasting in our weakness. Paul goes crazy with the word "boast" in his letters to the Corinthians (especially 2 Corinthians), as well as in a few other letters. What is it that he's boasting about? He's boasting about his own weakness and he's boasting about the Lord's strength. They go hand in hand.

I guess one could say that Paul is boasting in his humanness. Of course he's not "celebrating" how weak he is as a human in such a way as to say, "Look at me! I'm weak and I sin, and I'm "just human" and that's just the way I am, so Woo Hoo!" Now, the truth is that he is weak and he does sin and he is "just human" - in and of himself. And we could leave it right there and just think that's the end of the story.

But that's not the end of the story! Paul "boasts" in his weakness, in his humanness, because it means that he is rejecting the idea that in and of himself he is strong and powerful. In Philippians 3 he lists out his human strengths and righteous deeds that he formerly boasted in - and it's a pretty impressive list! But before there's any chance for any applause or adoration from his readers, he promptly says "I count it all as dung!" Why does he count it all as dung? So that he can be found in Christ alone, not having his own righteousness, but rather the only righteousness that counts - God's righteousness that is given freely as a gift.

We "boast" in our human weakness because letting go of our own sense of strength and righteousness opens up the door for the Lord's strength and righteousness. Paul says, "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Related: The Sufficiency of Grace


  1. Great post, Joel. We hate the thought of being weak and not in control yet that's the time when Father's life and strength flows best through us. Thanks for this reminder. I really needed it today.

  2. This is a reminder that I myself constantly need. Just like most people, I too want to be in control and to not be 'weak,' but you're so right that Father's life and strength flows through us best in our weakness and when everything is out of our control.