A Double-Edged Sword of Humility and Empowerment

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’
— 1 Corinthians 1:27-31

            As I sit to write this article this morning, I cannot get these verses out of my head. And if you haven’t heard me say it yet, don’t worry, you will: when verses of Scripture stick in your head, you do well to pay attention to them! So why these verses? They’re stuck in my head because of the emphasis on our sinful weakness coupled with a just-as-strong emphasis on our strength from God through Jesus Christ. When God made us alive in Him by the Spirit, He also opened our eyes to some truths. I am foolish (v. 27). I am weak (v. 27). I am low and despised (v. 28). I am things that are not (v. 28). God has given us the ability to recognize these things. In fact, it is a necessary acknowledgement when we fully rely on Jesus Christ for our salvation. There can be no boasting from us in the presence of God (v. 29).

And as our sinful slates are wiped clean, God gives us everything. He gives us salvation (v. 30’s “because of him you are in Christ Jesus” and “redemption”). He gives us wisdom in the fullness of Jesus Christ (v. 30). He gives us the ability to grow in (and the certainty of) righteousness and sanctification (v. 30). All of this leads to a heaping of praise and glory and adoration unto our God. “Look what God has done for us!” We boast only in the Lord (v. 31).

I am not a perfect human (of course!), but I do serve Perfection incarnate—Jesus Christ. Weaknesses abounds in your minister, and it is my hope that you acknowledge your weaknesses, too, for it is from this station of weakness that God most often works. We strive day in and day out to do what God calls us to do, but we need God’s mercy, grace, and power. We need to hold fast to this double-edged sword. On one side, we recognize our own weakness and frailty apart from God. On the other, we recognize our God-given strength to grow and serve and love. In one fell swoop, God crushes our pride and fills us with the real power that pride only hungers after, and it is all accomplished by the workings of Jesus Christ on our behalf! This is one of the many ways the Gospel plays out in our everyday lives. By keeping all of us humble and empowered, we are able to tangibly move forward—growing our care for one another, growing our relationships with one another, and growing our outreach to our neighbors and city. God has worked wonderfully on our behalves. Think on these things with me.