I am weak; there, I admitted it. But the truth is I don’t like admitting it and perhaps you are with me in this. I like to be “put-together.” I like to be effective in accomplishing what I need to accomplish and, truth be told, I don’t mind if people see me this way. So I spend time training myself to be more effective: reading books, listening to messages, building relationships with others who I can glean from and network with.
Occasionally I will question my motivations. Am I motivated solely to get more favor with others? So I can I get more resources? So I can become more secure? The answers to these questions are complex, humans are complex, but the bottom line for me is that I don’t like weakness and consistently set my course to gain strength. I’m not alone in this; I find many warnings in scripture of individuals who did similarly. In 1 Chronicles 26 we read of King Uzziah:
Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he was king in Jerusalem for fifty-two years. . . And he did what was correct in the eyes of the Lord. . . And he sought after God. . . And in the days that he sought after the Lord, God caused him to succeed. (1 Chronicles 26:3–5)
Uzziah had a good start, but his ending wasn’t so great.
And as he grew strong, his heart grew more proud, leading to his destruction. (2 Chronicles 26:16)
Getting strong was not Uzziah’s problem and it is not our problem, but our way of getting there and what we do once we are strong is the problem; the ensuing pride was Uzziah’s downfall and it will be ours too if we pursue this path. Thankfully scripture has an antidote against this path and it is called embracing weakness. The Apostle Paul learned this through painful trials as Jesus spoke to him, that “My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and this left an apostle who could literally “boast” in his weaknesses.
As I ponder many of Jesus commands, I am left with the distinct impression that the spiritual disciplines he commands us to do in secret (that’s right, so people can’t see and be impressed by what we are doing) are the practices he has set in place so that we won’t come away from life with false notions that it was our wisdom that achieved things.