I Am Weak
2 Corinthians 11:30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
Several months ago, a reader told me that he could see a lot of healing going on in my writing. This implied, to me, that I was writing for the purpose of recovering from past wounds. This offended me a little. My visceral response, which I did not say, was, I’m fine. I’m better now. Don’t you see how well I have recovered? I’m writing this for all of you sinners, still trapped in your addiction.
That was not true, but it is what I wanted to say. Though I tell myself that I am always growing and always maturing, it offended me when someone else said it. I have had to learn and relearn this truth: I will always have defect and I will always have need. It is my continual need that keeps me humble and pointed at God. The day I refuse to see my need is the day I begin to relapse. Yesterday then, when a friend pointed out that visible growth is still taking place in my writing, I was able to embrace it as an obvious truth. I am still growing up.
It is no failure to admit that I am weak and that I continually need God. It is a deadly mistake to embrace pride. It is not that I deny that I have strengths or have done good things. Humility is not pretending I have not done good. Humility is keeping my gaze focused on God instead of self. It is when I begin to focus on how wonderful I am, that I turn my gaze from God. Pride is the faith-killer.
Paul insisted upon this in today’s passage. His life was a mess in the eyes of the world. He had been whipped, beaten, stoned and shipwrecked. He knew the dangers of drowning, wild animals, robbers and enemies. Often, he went thirsty, hungry and cold. In the eyes of the world, Paul was a failure. Yet he found his weakness to be an asset as it kept him dependent on God. Though he had reason to boast (he was tremendously successful as an apostle), Paul refused to succumb to the seduction of pride.
Make no mistake, pride is profoundly seductive. Though it is so ugly when I see it in others, I am so easily persuaded to embrace it in my own life. Pride is natural as I am naturally self-centered. It is in my pride that I forget my dependence on God. Pride repels others from me and the God in which I claim to believe.
Choosing humility however, while unnatural, is the only cure for my deadly pride. When I turn my gaze to God, I assume my only proper position before him. In admitting my need, I turn to God, encouraging others to do likewise. In being vulnerable, I allow others to admit their need.
If I find myself in that dangerous place where everyone else in the world is wrong and I am the only one who has it figured out, I am in trouble. If I do not see that God has much work to do in me, then I am lost. If, deep down, I think that I am actually better than the addicts and sinners around me, then I no longer need God. It is only in admitting my continual need that I continue to know God.