Not By Our Strength, But By His

I’ve been reading The Lost Art of Disciple Making by Leroy Eims. It’s a good book about how to make disciples, how the New Testament church approached making disciples, and about how we often approach this very important task improperly. One of the parts of being a disciple is being able to share the Gospel. A lot of folks are afraid of sharing the Gospel because they think they’ll fail. And if left to their own abilities, that’s a certainty. We can’t change someone’s heart spiritually. Only God can. The point is, it’s not by our strength than God’s Kingdom is furthered. Our willingness and desire to serve will be used by God, but ultimately, it’s all about the Lord. For instance, here are the two examples cited by Eims from 2 Samuel:

… and after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there to battle and the men of Israel had withdrawn. He arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword, and the LORD brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to strip the slain. – 2 Samuel 23:9-10, NASB

and

Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the LORD brought about a great victory. – 2 Samuel 23:11-12, NASB

2 Samuel 23 from verse 8 to the end of the chapter lists David’s mighty men. These two are selected because of the feats they performed in battle. Eleazar stood his ground and continued to battle the Philistines when the rest of the Israelite army retreated. He battled until his hand was so tired he couldn’t ungrip his sword. Such a stand is the stuff of legend and it makes sense that we have it recorded here in Scripture. However, notice who is given credit for the victory that day. It wasn’t Eleazar; it was God. Then when we look at Shammah, we see another valiant stand. Again, the rest of the army had withdrawn but Shammah stood firm. Again, the enemy was the fierce and (as we know from history) well-equipped Philistines. However, that didn’t deter Shammah. But once again, we see that God is given credit for the victory.

These are two examples of personal heroic efforts, yet God is given the glory. Why? Quite frankly, because they couldn’t have done it without God. War is savage and brutal. One false move and it’s your life. The more tired you become, such as with a prolonged battle against multiple foes, the more likely you are of making that fatal mistake. God’s hand of protection was upon these men. And quite honestly, one man does not beat an army and win a battle. That means in both of these battles, something else had to have happened. And that success and that something else was attributed to God. As mighty and valiant as these men were, they still needed God.

Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life. – Judges 16:28-30, NASB

Samson had relied on his own strength for years. He was set apart for God, but broke those vows. And here it was, after he had been humbled and lost everything, he turns to God and asks for the strength he once wielded with impunity. Prior to verse 28, in verses 23-27, we learn why Samson is in the building. The Philistines were sacrificing to their god Dagon and had brought Samson out as entertainment. God accepted Samson’s request and granted him the strength to bring the house down, literally. Samson needed God, just as much as Eleazar and Shammah would later in Israel’s history.

Whatever God calls us to do, it’s not based on our power. It’s always based on His. As a result, we never have to worry about failure. If we are faithful and diligent, God will work out the situation to His satisfaction. And we get to be a part. So whether we’re asked to witness to someone, to help out in a missions opportunity, or simply vaccuum the carpet in the sanctuary, it’s all about God. God knows the details. God knows the people. And God knows exactly what to do and how to do it. When we don’t have the resources, He’ll bring them. All we’ve got to do is trust. As you start this week, remember that no matter what is God calling you to, you have a promise in Philippians 4:13 (NASB):

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

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