The First Commandment: Strength
“HEAR, O ISRAEL; THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD: AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD WITH ALL THY HEART AND WITH ALL THY SOUL, AND WITH ALL THY MIND,
AND WITH ALL THY STRENGTH:
(from Mark 12:29,30)KJV
He ripped apart a lion with his bare hands, killed thirty men, and killed another thousand with the jaw bone of a donkey. He possessed strength of body but weakness in heart, soul, and mind, which resulted in the loss of his physical power. In his death, by God’s grace, Samson’s physical strength was renewed, and he brought the house down on his enemies, killing more in his death than in his life.
Over a thousand years later, another man stood unimpressive in physical strength and suffered much in the weakness of his body. But what he had, the apostle Paul offered to the Lord, along with all his heart, soul, and mind.
“And he trembling and astonished said,
Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
And the Lord said unto him,
Arise, and go into the city,
and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
Acts 9:6, KJV
The Lord chose Paul to bear his name to the nations, kings, and the children of Israel. He would suffer much in this mission.
Paul labored through the whippings, the prison stays, near death experiences, and adverse elements of nature. He endured beatings, dangers by thieves, Israelites, and false brothers. He knew weariness of body, mind, and soul; pain, hunger, thirst, and want. He bore the responsibility of the churches he had planted. And he says,
“Who is weak, and I am not weak?
Who is offended, and I burn not?
If I must needs glory,
I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”
2 Corinthians 11:29,30, KJV
When Paul asked the Lord to remove the thorn or weakness he suffered from, the Lord answered him,
“My grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness …
“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches,
in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:
for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9,10, KJV
Paul knew the Lord’s strength, his power, would enable him to be God’s chosen vessel of the gospel. What strength he had, Paul traded for the power of the Lord. He could say,
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Philippians 4:13, KJV
When facing his death Paul told Timothy—
“For I am now ready to be offered,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith:
there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,
which the Lord the righteous judge,
shall give me at that day:
and not to me only,
but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:6-8, KJV
- Samson the weakest strong man, whose life and death leave us with questions.
- Paul the strongest weak man, whose life and death leave those who love the appearing of Christ with living hope.
Ours is to offer the Lord all the physical strength we have, be it little or much, and he will multiply it by his strength for his glory.
When has God’s strength been evident in your life?