The Blessing of Weakness

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

by John David Hicks

Being poor in spirit means you acknowledge your spiritual powerlessness, that you need God’s strength. To be emptied of your self-sufficiency, you must become “poor” or “bankrupt” inwardly. You lack the spiritual resources to accomplish anything of value in ministry apart from Christ. Thus, you depend on the Lord’s mercy and grace. The promise is that those who humbly depend on God will inherit the blessing of the kingdom. Therefore, you will find in your surrender, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength…. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:13,19). That is why you are blessed when you are weak.

Our human tendency is to try to do everything in our own strength. We rely on our own resources to be successful. Our endless desire is to manage our lives on our own. This attitude undermines God’s grace and empowering strength. The Scripture says, “He gives more grace. Therefore, He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:5-6 nkjv). Only those who have renounced their self-sufficiency and have come to the end of themselves can receive God’s grace.

To live a victorious life in Christ you must come to the end of your human resources and abandon yourself to the Father’s will and ways. “Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:36-37 nasb).

The sanctified, Spirit-filled life is both a crisis of surrender and a never-ending process of surrender.

Sanctification is putting your willingness into Christ’s hands. The practical outworking of that willingness in your daily life is something that you will be doing the rest of your life. This is the unknown bundle of consecration. You can only surrender to God that part of yourself of which you are aware and acknowledge. There is a willingness to surrender now, but also a willingness to surrender anything else that comes up in the future.

You can’t surrender the things you don’t know about until you face those issues in a specific situation. In your surrender there can be a struggle between your emotions and your will. God said to Israel, “All of Canaan is yours.” But then he added, “But you must possess it. It is yours…provided you put the soles of your feet upon it, take your shoes off, recognize my presence and trust me.” 

You are to say, “Oh Lord, I will always choose your will. I surrender my right to make my choices on the basis of what I want or what I would like; and I commit myself to find your will and to do it. I am totally dependent on you. I say with Jesus, ‘Not my will, but yours be done.’”

After the crisis of surrender, the outworking of this in your daily life becomes the ongoing process of actually surrendering things as they come up. Before this, you haven’t surrendered anything specific. You said, “Lord, my will is yours.” But now you say, “God, I choose your will now in this situation and I trust you.”

In the New Testament when God uses someone in a great way, that person becomes humble and weak, so he will depend on the Lord and live by faith.

The idols of wood, hay, and straw must be burned away so that the costly stones of the grace of God, of gold and silver can be revealed in us (1 Cor. 3:12-15). For “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). God uses small vessels, plain vessels, and even broken vessels. But he will not use a self-righteous vessel that is contaminated with pride. This is why “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:27-29).

For your sake, you must die to your sinful selfish self (Gal. 2:20-21). Paul gives us his testimony, “I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory…in Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Cor. 15:31). Then Paul reveals the mystery: “Christ in you, the hope of glory…. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Col. 1:27, 29). This is utter dependency on God’s grace and power. When you are weakest, God is strongest. He is all you need. As you trust the Lord, he gives you direction and will fight your battles. You must learn with David that the “battle is the Lord’s” when you face your Goliaths (1 Sam. 17:47). Jesus made it plain: “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Look how God was able to use Paul in a mighty way.

In 1 and 2 Corinthians Paul gives 25 references about how divine power comes out of human weakness. So, God gave him a thorn in the flesh.  Having prayed three times for God to remove this “thorn,” Paul hears the Holy Spirit say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Paul had many strengths. He was well-educated, brilliant, clever, and well-privileged socially. Paul was successful in starting churches, mentoring disciples, and proclaiming the gospel. The problem was that Paul had impressive spiritual experiences and great revelations that could make any person proud and arrogant. While these strengths are an asset in the defense of the gospel, they can be an obstacle to dependence upon God. Paul could easily have been tempted with pride. So, the Father allowed Paul to experience times of weakness so he could come to the end of himself. These times were painful for Paul, but they were also the path to greater power and victory. Embracing death to his self-confidence and self-reliance, he “died daily.” The Holy Spirit then said to Paul, “My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness.”

God used the things that made Paul weak to show Paul His power in Paul’s life. His weakness was the key to God’s strength in his life. Paul then testified, “Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! So, for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength)” (2 Cor. 12:9-10 amp).  Again, Paul writes, “For to be sure, [Jesus] was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you” (2 Cor. 13:4).

Will you let God crucify your self-assertiveness, natural intellect, and self-sufficiency? Will you die to your performance, the law, so that the Holy Spirit’s resources can flow through you? This is why God has chosen the foolish, weak things of the world to show up the mighty and those who think they have their act together; “so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:18-25, 29). “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

This is how you die daily. It’s a lifelong process of crucifixion, not just a one-time event.

A well-known pastor said of Billy Graham, “I am a better preacher than Graham, more educated and have more talents and abilities. Why would God choose Him?”

Billy Graham was a humble man, a Christianity Today obituary said, who spent his long life drawing attention to God, not himself. He learned it’s “not by might nor by power,” but by God’s Spirit (Zech. 4:6).

Most Christians would not have chosen the men Jesus chose as His apostles. When the religious leaders of that day saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, “they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Have you been with Jesus? Those who recognize their weakness learn to depend on God for strength.

Just acknowledging your weakness does not in itself make you effective in God’s service. But the realization of your weakness and God’s strength is a powerful combination that produces faith and trust in God.

Paul learned that and said so in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, “Not that we are sufficiently qualified in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency and qualifications come from God. He has qualified us [making us sufficient] as ministers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not of the letter [of a written code] but of the Spirit” (amp).

Corrie ten Boom said it well. “Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit [and His gifts], then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.”

Your weakness and inability will cultivate a reliance on the Holy Spirit which will prevent self-sufficiency. Weakness is seen as the absence of power. But Paul found that in Christ presence is the power. “I can do all things through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).


By John David Hicks

“Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day” (Luke 9:62 The Message).

These words of Jesus were given to a man who said that he would follow Jesus, but not today. In all of life, the choices you make will determine your direction.  Your life is a result of your choices. The battle is won in your heart and mind. Proverbs 4:23 NLT, reminds us to: “Guard your [mind and your] heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  

Procrastination will make easy things seem hard and hard things even harder! It will steal your time, talent and treasure by delaying, postponing or avoiding a task or decision. Procrastination plants the seeds of self-destruction by undermining your ability to accomplish your plans and goals.  Procrastination starts with the feelings of being overwhelmed and the unwillingness to accept personal responsibility now.  For many, procrastination becomes a habit and their biggest regret.

Benjamin Franklin put it this way: “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of.” From a biblical perspective, Paul admonishes us: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). Since time has no meaning or value in eternity all your have is now (Rev. 4:8-10). Your character is established in how you use your time (James. 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:24).  At the judgement, you are judged on how you use your time, talent, treasure, tongue and task in this life (Eph. 5:16-17; Matt. 12:35-37). Naturally, Satan and the world system want you to waste your time (1 John 2:15-17; James 4:14-17).  

I like Nike’s motto, “Just do it!” The difference between success and failure often is the inability to act. To put off choosing will inevitably make circumstance choose for you.  Procrastination makes an easy job seem gigantic. So, “Just do it!” The time will never be just right.

Here are some suggestions to help overcome procrastination:

1.   Too many tasks at once can overwhelm you. Divide your time into different slots and break the task down to small jobs. 

2.   Prioritize the important tasks and set a deadline.  

3.   Focus on starting to work on the task rather than finishing it and don’t be concerned with an imperfect start.  

4.   Eliminate distractions around you by telling others your goal. 

5.   Remind yourself of the end goal and the value and reward you will receive—that will help keep you motivated.  

Some common causes of our procrastination are lack of perspective, poor time management skills, perfectionism and fear of failure.  Examine why you are tempted to delay. It is so easy to delay starting tasks that may be difficult or unpleasant in favor of more pleasurable activities. Take the unpleasant task on.  Research has found that considering a task as boring or unpleasant is more likely to result in procrastination than a lack of capability to do the task well.  “A wise person does at once, what a fool does at last. Both do the same thing; only at different times,” said Lord Acton.  

One example is cleaning up clutter. It builds up on your desk, your kitchen, the infamous junk drawer, or in boxes that you have ignored. Remember that things are meant to be momentary. Clearing the clutter out of your life—be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual—will inspire a sense of strength, peace and satisfaction. When you start to prioritize what is important, you will start to conquer clutter.

Procrastination spiritually will stop your spiritual growth. This is sometimes called “lag time.”  It is the time that elapses between when God reveals a truth and when you finally get around to obeying it. It looks like this:

God asks for obedience in some area of your life → you procrastinate →you stop growing spiritually → God reminds you again → you obey this time → spiritual growth

Procrastination is one of the devil’s most subtle weapons. You put off obedience—after all, you can do it later. This works on many Christians, unless they have a commitment to obedience. Satan disguises your disobedience and claims that you will obey sometime in the future. This makes you feel better, but you have been duped into disobedience disguised as future obedience. The longer you put it off, the more likely you will not do it. A mark of growth in your Christian life is a decrease in the lag time in your obedience. Your commitment goal should be to reduce the lag time to zero and “Just do it!”

So how do you get the willpower?  Willpower is about self-control. You gain willpower by practicing willpower on the little things in your life: going to bed and rising at set times, eating healthy, making your bed, and exercising. Willpower is mostly a habit you acquire through daily practice. I start my day with the word of God and prayer.  That’s where I get my A-B-C Priority list.  If you exercise willpower on little things, you will have willpower for the big things.

The definition of willpower is the strength of will to carry out one’s decisions, wishes, or plans with the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.  It’s the will to take positive action now and stop putting it off.  Commitment to a goal will changes the way you think. Don’t let anything get in the way of your commitment.  Make no exception.  True willpower requires that you have no other options. Your focus is intense, and you are committed to get it done.

When Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, He said to the crowd that some of them were building their lives on the solid rock and some on shifting sand.  Some were wise and some were foolish builders. Basically, Jesus was saying “The foolish builders are those people who just listen and agree with everything Jesus had to say, but do not act on it.  James 1:8 says, the foolish are like a “double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”  The wise builders, said Jesus, are “Blessed” (Luke 11:28), they listen and act on the things they have heard.  The foolish have good thoughts and intentions but never put it into practice.  The wise act on it, and the strength and reward follow.

 A philosopher from ancient Rome had this to say about our time:

We all sorely complain of the shortness of time, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives are either spent in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few and acting as though there would be no end of them.”      — Seneca the Younger

 “Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day” (Luke 9:62 The Message).  Whether your procrastination is intentional or unintentional, now is the time to break the habit of procrastination—especially if it is postponing your obedience to God.  Let time serve your purposes.  Things are not always convenient or the right time.  So, don’t let procrastination rob you of the joy and peace of a completed task. Be purposeful, but once you’ve made up your mind, “Just do it!”