I always hated when a job or school application asked me to list my strengths and weaknesses. It was like asking me to lie. How many truly dig deep down and take a sincere inventory? “I’m a hard worker, honest, responsible, intelligent, blah, blah, blah…” Even bigger lies hid among my supposed weaknesses. How long I toiled over these to make me look good. “I procrastinate (but I perform best under pressure!)” Or “I’m too hard on myself sometimes” meaning “Look how humble I am!”
Remember Charles Atlas? He promised to make me a real man. How many times was I tempted to order his “free” book and be transformed into the “Hero of the beach”? I wanted so much to be strong.
We focus on our strengths. We cultivate and display them. But a good coach looks for his athlete’s weaknesses and works on these to make a champion. Sometimes strength and weakness might even present themselves in the same circumstance. How many of us feel compassion? I do. When I see someone suffering I feel bad for them. I wish better for them and this is good.
What happens though when it is someone who I dislike or whose priorities and principles stand against mine? When things go wrong for them how do I react? Yes, compassion floats slickly on the surface, but deep down what do I feel? Happiness? Or perhaps more precisely, satisfaction. Do I think, “Well they deserved it,” with a sense of self-righteousness? How odd that I can feel these opposite sensations at the same time. But, like the job application, it is a lie. Because the compassion I feel is false. It is a crafty disguise to let me fully enjoy my self-righteousness. How sad. So I end up being the one that needs compassion instead.
The apostle Paul wrote that in his weakness he finds his strength. He knew that strength keeps Jesus out of our lives. Our strength is a fortress against Christ’s healing grace. Our weakness –be it a wound, illness, addiction, denial, apathy or pride – this is the door to our salvation and it terrifies us. It is the light shining upon our nakedness before God revealing truth.
How afraid we are to be free.
Set aside your strength. Let your weakness be exposed to God in heaven. Let Him enter this door to heal you. To cleanse you. To free you. Let Him make you a champion.