An Elder Mentoring a Next-Generation Spiritual Leader

A daily devotion for November 21st

How To Be Strong

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:1

The first thing you have to do when things start falling apart, Paul says, is to be strong yourself in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; that is a fundamental principle of helping anybody. You can only pass on to others what you yourself have received. Head knowledge is of no value. If you merely pass on a knowledge of the truth—teaching people the various doctrines of Christianity—you have done nothing to help them at all. Unless they can see that that truth has changed you and made you different, that you speak out of the experience of having been altered by the truth you believe, you will never do anything to help someone else stand in the hour of danger. If you want to strengthen others, Paul's advice is to start with yourself.

That which strengthens is grace. A peculiar thing about grace is it is never available to strong people. That is what makes it difficult for us to get hold of it sometimes. We are continually assaulted today with a barrage of propaganda teaching us that the way to be strong is to develop some quality about ourselves, some hidden power, some reserve of personality, some right that we need to demand. But if you believe the Bible, these teachings are the way to be weak—and that is what proves to be the case. God's grace alone is strong enough to handle the pressures of a fallen world, but the only way you can lay hold of the grace of God is to acknowledge that you are so weak you do not have anything else that will hold you.

Many today are unable to be strong and don't stand in the day of pressure, although they give great testimony about how they are going to follow Christ and stand for Him. In the moment of pressure, however, they go down almost instantly. They have bought the lie of the world that if they just make up their mind, that if by their will or their effort they display their tremendous natural gifts, or if they develop some power to ride over the rights of others, they can stand. But Paul's word is that the way to strength is to discover the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Recognize your own weakness and then accept God's promise to work with you and through you in your weakness to make it strong. That is how it works.

Christians should continually be learning to say, I can't live up to this demand. I can't do this thing that is asked of me. But He can; therefore I can. Take the action based upon the expectation that God is in you, and He will enable you to do what you otherwise cannot do. That is authentic Christianity. It is supernatural. Natural strength is its greatest enemy. When we learn that, we can be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Lord, I confess my weakness. I ask that You fill me with your strength to face the things You have put before me.

Life Application

Is God's grace available to strong or weak people? Why? Have we discovered the radical difference in the path and power of grace in a fallen world?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

How to Defend a Lion

Listen to Ray