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Weakness and strength
By josh
10/11/2006 12:31:56 PM
Ether 12:27 — And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

2 Corinthians 12:10 — 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.

Ok, I am just obsessed with Ether 12:27, and a similar verse in the New Testament, 2 Cor 12:10.

I was thinking about this verse last night, and I began to wonder about the traditional interpretation of this verse. (These are just my own thoughts, so take it for what it's worth.) Typically we infer from this verse that if we have one particular weakness, lets say gossip - just to extend the concept beyond that of addiction recovery, that the Lord can make that particular thing one of our strengths. In other words, one of our strengths will be that we never gossip. But I think that is not really the heart of the issue.

If I recognize that I have a weakness, and I come unto the Lord and humble myself and repent and have faith in Him, in what do I actually gain strength? Just the particular sin I have approached him about? Or is it more that I become strong in general - my faith is strengthened, my testimony is strengthened, and I become strong in Christ. My nature is changed through Christ and therefore my disposition to do good in all areas of my life is increased, and my propensity towards sin abated.

When I read the way Paul worded it, I think it reinforces this concept. Paul is strong when he is weak. Why? How? Because when he is weak, he is humble. He recognizes his dependence on the Lord, he understands his own imperfect nature and his reliance on the perfecting, or sanctifying power of the Lord. It is his trials and "infirmities" that teach him this. And when you have all these characteristics, you are then strong. Strong in what? Strong in willpower? In your own abilities? No, quite the opposite. Strong in Christ. Strong in the gospel, strong in faith, strong in consistent obedience to the Lord.

I do believe that our particular weaknesses can become particular strengths, but I do not believe that is necessarily what the focus should be. Perhaps we could interpret "I will make weak things become strong unto them" more along the lines of "your weak things will produce strong things - not necessarily just the same things. Weaknesses are the catalyst to strength, if you humble yourself, if you have faith. Otherwise, they are just weaknesses, and they can destroy you."

I have a weakness - an addiction to pornography. Should my focus therefore be making resisting pornography my strength? Partially, but it is so much more than that. It will never really be my strength, anyway - for I only will have become strong (and remain strong) through Christ. This weakness has the potential to lead me to turn my whole body and soul over to Christ - to make me kinder to others, more charitable, more understanding, more giving, and in short, more Christ-like. And if my nature is thus changed, if through this process I am continually perfected in Christ, and my intrinsic behaviors change as a result of a divine change in nature, then that is strength.

Comments:

Good Post    
"I like your line of thinking. That is exactly what I think the scripture means... Along those same lines, I think the Lord can make me strong in my weakness by teaching me things about myself while I struggle to overcome my weakness. He helps me work on those things that help me overcome my weakness. Because of all this help and teaching... If I really pay attention and try to learn the lesson(s) the Lord is trying to teach, the Lord therefore makes me stronger in my weakness. Again, my weakness does not directly turn into a strength, but the things the Lord teaches me about myself and about life become the catalyst for greater personal improvement and strength."
posted at 13:57:39 on October 11, 2006 by doanair
Amen!    
"I have learned so much by reading the insights posted on this website. Josh, your perceptions are just incredible. "
posted at 18:23:11 on October 11, 2006 by Anonymous


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"I will speak briefly of the principle of repentance. How grateful I am for the understanding we have of this great principle. It is not a harsh principle, as I thought when I was a boy. It is kind and merciful. The Hebrew root of the word means, simply, "to turn," or to return, to God. Jehovah pled with the children of Israel: "Return . . . and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful . . . and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God." When we acknowledge our sins, confess them and forsake them, and turn to God, He will forgive us."

— Richard G. Hinckley

General Conference April 2006