For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. –Hebrews 4:15
A youth worker shared with me about her ongoing struggle with a life-dominating problem. Of note was her own perception that this struggle has blocked her ability to know God and that until she conquers the problem, God won’t allow her to be effective in ministry to students. It saddened me to hear her story because her struggle was so common.
All too frequently, committed Christ-followers believe that God won’t reveal Himself or use anyone who doesn’t have life “all together.” An important question is this: do you believe that God expects perfection from His followers?
One of my favorite encouraging stories in the Gospels is the story of Jesus and Peter, after Jesus’ resurrection. The story takes place on the beach along the sea of Tiberias. Peter has seriously let Jesus down over the recent days, running away from Jesus at his time of greatest need and repeatedly denying he even knew Jesus. At their breakfast beach meeting, Jesus had every right to tell Peter, “I love you, but you let me down. I can’t trust you anymore.” Who would have blamed Jesus?
Yet, Jesus did just the opposite. He gave Peter responsibility, saying, “feed my sheep.” Peter was far from perfect. Peter was anything but a poster-boy for having it “all together.” Yet, Jesus not only revealed Himself personally to Peter, but He gave him authority to minister to others.
While God’s people are to pursue holiness, no one is perfect and we all struggle with sin’s grip on our lives. (See 1 John 1:8.) Yet, we need to embrace ourselves as we are: both saint and sinner, with strengths and weaknesses; successes and failures; victories and defeats. When we acknowledge our brokenness, struggles and our need for God, He will use us. When we embrace our weaknesses as part of who we are and put our confidence in Christ’s work in our lives, He will use us.
Rather than wallowing in the mire of self-condemnation today, receive this encouragement from Scripture: But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me… for when I am weak, then I am strong. –2 Corinthians 12:9-10
1. What life struggles or sins make you feel you can’t be effective in ministering to others?
2. Thank God that He delights in you for who you are, regardless of your weaknesses. Ask God to use you today to encourage or serve someone else in His name.
John 21; 1 John 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7