Talents and Gifts, Strengths and Weaknesses
By David Brandt Berg
Most of us don’t consider ourselves particularly strong or capable, and we feel we lack certain strengths or abilities that we wish we had. That’s when it helps to remember that God specializes in using people who aren’t great in themselves.
The apostle Paul wrote, “You see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
Why does God purposely choose weak people?—Because the weaker we are, the better God can show what He can do. It’s in our weakness that He is able to manifest His mighty power, overcome our human limitations, and perform miracles. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
When we don’t feel capable or sufficient for the task God has set before us, then He has a chance to take over and do things to suit Himself. In fact, the weaker we get in ourselves, the stronger we can be in His Spirit, because that’s when His strength comes in (2 Corinthians 12:10).
The very fact that we feel incapable is one of the best things possible, because then we depend on the Lord and He has a chance to work—and He will. “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The Lord likes for us to be dependent on Him, to know that we need His help, and to ask Him for it. It’s then that “the things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
The weakness of strength
The biggest temptation for people who have a lot of natural ability and drive is to push things through in their own strength, but that has its limits and dangers. “Men of force are men of faults,” and their biggest fault is when they keep on going in their own strength, their own force, instead of letting the Lord work through them.
Having so much natural ability, strength, and drive is often the very thing that stands in the way of the Lord showing His strength. It’s more difficult for such people to depend on the Lord because they’re used to depending on themselves.
My mother, for example, had a lot going for her in the natural—a lot of God-given talents, abilities, drive, personality, looks, and so on. But it wasn’t until after she broke her back in an accident and was bedridden and in a wheelchair for five years that the Lord was able to use her the way He wanted to. After she and her doctors had tried everything they could with no success, when she didn’t have anyone else to turn to and no more strength of her own, the Lord stepped in and healed her miraculously—and she knew the Lord had done it! She still had the natural traits and abilities He’d originally given her, but through this experience she learned to lean on Him, to let Him use those traits and abilities for His glory, and to give Him the credit for whatever got accomplished—and that’s when He was finally able to use her to the full. Of course, all of us depend on our natural abilities to some extent at different times, so to rely more on the Lord and His strength is a lesson we all need to learn.
How to win spiritual victories
It’s been said that “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” Well, that certainly is the truth, because when you’re weak in yourself, that’s when you can be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). However, the Devil might not tremble so much if you’re one of those people who think that they’re “strong.” If you’re too self-confident, that in itself is a major spiritual weakness. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). As Martin Luther wrote:
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing.
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus it is He!
Lord Sabbaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle!
We cannot strive in our own strength. We must look to the Lord, and He must win the battle. We don’t have to try to win victories by our own striving, struggling, and working in the flesh. We just have to do our part by putting our will on God’s side, and God will do the rest, which is virtually everything!
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