By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.' -- 1 Cor.15:10
And He hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My power is made perfect in weakness. . . . In nothing was I behind the chiefest of the apostles, though I am nothing.' -- 2 Cor.12:9, 11
In both of these passages Paul speaks of how he had abounded in the work of the Lord. In nothing was I behind the chiefest of the Apostles.' I laboured more abundantly, than they all.' In both he tells how entirely it was all of God, who worked in Him, and not of himself. In the first he says: Not I, but the grace of God which was with me.' And then in the second, showing how this grace is Christ's strength working in us, while we are nothing, he tells us: He said unto me: My grace is sufficient for thee: My power is made perfect in weakness.' May God give us the Spirit of revelation, enlightened eyes of the heart,' to see this wonderful vision, a man who knows himself to be nothing, glorying in his weakness, that the power of Christ may rest on him, and work through him, and who so labours more abundantly than all. What does this teach us as workers for God[?]
God's work can only be done in God's strength. -- It is only by God's power, that is, by God Himself working in us, that we can do effective work. Throughout this little book this truth has been frequently repeated. It is easy to accept of it; it is far from easy to see its full meaning, to give it the mastery over our whole being, to live it out. This will need stillness of soul, and meditation, strong faith and fervent prayer. As it is God alone who can work in us, it is equally God who alone can reveal Himself as the God who works in us. Wait on Him, and the truth that ever appears to be beyond thy reach will be opened up to thee, through the knowledge of who and what God is. When God reveals Himself as God who worketh all in all,' thou wilt learn to believe and work according to the power of Him who worketh in thee mightily.'
God's strength can only work in weakness. -- It is only when we truly say, Not I! that we can fully say, but the grace of God with me. The man who said, In nothing behind the chiefest of the Apostles! had first learnt to say, though I am nothing. He could say: I take pleasure in weaknesses, for when I am weak then am I strong.' This is the true relation between the Creator and the creature, between the Divine Father and His child, between God and His servant. Christian worker! learn the lesson of thine own weakness, as the indispensable condition of God's Power working in thee. Do believe that to take time and in God's presence to realise thy weakness and nothingness is the sure way to be clothed with God's strength. Accept every experience by which God teaches thee thy weakness as His grace preparing thee to receive His strength. Take pleasure in weaknesses!
God's strength comes in our fellowship with Christ and His service. -- Paul says: I will glory in my weakness, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me.' I take pleasure in weaknesses for Christ's sake.' Andhe tells how it was when be had besought the Lord that the messenger of Satan might depart from him, that He answered: My grace is sufficient for thee.' Christ is the wisdom and the power of God.' We do not receive the wisdom to know, or the power to do God's will as something that we can possess and use at discretion. It is in the personal attachment to Christ, in a life of continual communication with Him, that His power rests on us. It is in taking pleasure in weaknesses for Christ's sake that Christ's strength is known.
God's strength is given to faith, and the work that is done in faith. -- It needs a living faith to take pleasure in weaknesses, and in weakness to do our work, knowing that God is working in us. Without seeing or feeling anything, to go on in the confidence of a hidden power working in us -- this is the highest exercise of a life of faith. To do God's own work in saving souls, in per severing prayer and labour; amid outwardly unfavourable circumstances and appearances still to labour more abundantly -- this faith alone can do. Let us be strong in faith, giving glory to God. God will show Himself strong towards him whose heart is perfect with Him.
My brother! be willing to yield yourself to the very utmost to God, that His power may rest upon you, may work in you. Do let God work through you. Offer yourself to Him for His work as the one object of your life. Count upon His working all in you, to fit you for His service, to strengthen and bless you in it. Let the faith and love of your Lord Jesus, whose strength is going to be made perfect in your weakness, lead you to live even as He did, to do the Father's will and finish His work.
1. Let every minister seek the full personal experience of Christ's strength made perfect in His weakness: this alone will fit him to teach believers the secret of their strength.
2. Our Lord says: My grace, My strength.' It is as, in close personal fellowship and love, we abide in Christ, and have Christ abiding in us, that His grace and strength can work.
3. It is a heart wholly given up to God, to His will and love, that will know his power working in our weakness.