Summary: In this world, people believe that you need to focus on your strenghts to be a great leader. In God’s Kingdom it is the exact opposite. God see’s potential in weakness and is able to transform our weaknesses into our most powerful strenghts.
INTRO: By the show of hands, who here, knows somebody that is perfect or thinks that their perfect themselves? Just raise your hand! If anybody raised their hands, that action alone would qualify you as being imperfect. I want to let you in on a little secret. We are never going to be perfect. You were not perfect before you were a Christian and you probably found this out, but you are, also not perfect, now that you are a Christian. We can strive for excellence, but perfection will never take place on this side of the rapture. But see, that is the beauty of the cross. God accepts us, as we are. We are “AS IS” People. God never said, boy, clean up your act. Get a job, a car, a house, a wife, a college degree, and when you attained all of that, come and follow me.
Actually Jesus said the exact opposite. He said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened (ALL THOSE WHO ARE ADDICTED TO DRUGS AND ALCOHOL, ALL THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN REJECTED BY THEIR FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND SOCEITY) and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
God accepts us as we are. We are “As Is” People. I want to illustrate this to you with this box of cereal. I went to the grocery store and bought this box of cereal from the dented can rack. Though it is beat up on the outside, it is still in a condition that the store is allowed to sell it to their customers. The box of cereal is sold “as is,” if we were to compare this beat up box of cereal to a brand new box of cereal, we could say, the new box, looks nicer, because it is not ripped and tore up on the outside. But if we were to look inside both boxes of cereal, we would find exactly the same contents. Both boxes on the inside are the same, even though there exterior looks different. This is exactly how God sees us. He looks past our problems, our pains, our weaknesses, and accepts us, as we are. God accepts us, as we are, but He does not stop there. He looks to who we can be, with His help.
One thing I learned about God since I left Teen Challenge is that He is a master at taking my hurts, hang-ups, and habits, and using them for his glory. God accepts us as we are, and then empowers us to become who He wants us to be.
The way God empowers us, is not an ordinary formula for success that the world follows. The world thinks one must focus on their strengths, to be successful. They believe that your strengths will bring you to the top. We have all heard, the phrase, “only the strong survive.” Well, in God’s Kingdom, it is the exact opposite, “only the weak survive.” I want to show you first hand, how this worked, in the life of one of the most courageous men in the Bible, the apostle, Paul.
2 Cor. 12: 7-10
He said, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 "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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 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.”
“Only The Weak, Survive!”
Thesis: We can depend on God and expose our weaknesses to Him so that He will make us strong, even when we are weak!
In verse nine, the text reads, “But He said to me.” There is a very important lesson to learn in these few words. If you do not read closely, you will miss this. Notice, it is God who is the one that is speaking to Paul. Actually, verse 9 is an answer. God gave to Paul in prayer. The answer that God gave to Paul was not exactly what he desired, but exactly what he needed.
Paul was asking for God to take his thorn away, and God, basically said, “NO,” in a nice way. In the Greek text, the word for “he said”, eiraken, is in the perfect tense. The use of the perfect tense speaks of something that happened in the past that continues to be evident in the present. This suggests that the decision God made is final by Paul. In other words, Paul is saying, if God says it, I believe it and that is final. But more than that, Paul’s use of the perfect verb, tells us that he still hears the echo of this divine revelation from God. He is reminded normally of what God said, to him that day. What Paul had heard in the past, remains as a source of power and comfort for the present. God will speak to us, so that He can empower us for our daily living.