– Philippians 4:13
When I am weak, like the old hymn says, I am strong; but not because I’m pulling myself up by my own bootstraps. It’s only through Christ that my weakness can become strength. Only by bringing empty hands can He fill them up. Only in brokenness can He fix us. Only in emptiness can He fill us. It is never our strength; we can do nothing without Him Who strengthens us. Here’s the Apostle Paul’s formula: My weakness plus Christ’s strength equals everything! My strength minus Christ equals nothing!
When I recall a couple that I knew years ago who were facing bankruptcy because of a balloon payment at the end of their mortgage, they knew their only hope was God. They had done all they could do, and now there was nothing more that could be done. Years ago when the couple bought the house, they failed to look at the terms and conditions of the contract and all the fine print, which mentioned the balloon payment. But God is the God of second chances (and third and so on); so they could only pray, “God we can’t do anything about this, but we can’t wait to see what You’re going to do for Your glory.” Now that’s real “praise in the storm” type worship and prayer.
Abiding in the Vine
When we are abiding in Christ, He is abiding in us. That’s just what Jesus said in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” A branch is of no use if it’s not attached to the vine. It can’t bear any fruit. It’s only headed for the burn pile (John 15:6). Since we are the branch and He is the Vine, we can’t do anything except shrivel up and die unless we abide in the Vine, that is, Jesus Christ.
When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He didn’t say to Lazarus, “Okay, Lazarus, if you’ll move your little finger or blink an eye, I’ll do the rest.” Lazarus was dead, four days dead, so there was nothing Lazarus could do without Jesus supernaturally resurrecting him. In the same way, we were dead before we were born again. We were the walking dead, so to speak, and dead men and women don’t seek after God (Romans 3:11-12). Paul puts our former lives in a very blunt but truthful manner: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1-2). Thankfully, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5).
We can’t do anything of significance in our own strength. It is only through Christ, Who can strengthen us and do what we cannot do. So we need to abide in Christ continually and thank Him for us being made alive through Him by repentance and faith, which is all for His glory, for nothing else matters.