Monday, April 25, 2022
We come to the concluding remarks of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus. I remember as a little boy in Sunday School having to memorize this entire passage from Ephesians 6 starting in verse 10. Today, as I read it again, I got hung up on the third word. I asked myself, “What does it mean to be strong?”
Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”
One of my favorite methods of personal devotions is to explore how a particular word is used throughout the Bible and try to capture the richness and depth of its meaning. For the last hour I have been doing that with the word “strong”. I wanted to see how the Greek word for strong, which in this instance means “to endue with strength”, could apply to my life. After all, the root of the word here is the word from which we get our English word “dynamite”, so I would like to know how my life could be explosively strong.
There are 10 occurrences of this word in the New Testament, and 5 of them specifically relate to areas of our spiritual lives where we can be strong. I was encouraged as I looked at them, and I hope you will be also. First, let’s make sure we understand that the strength in which we are to live is God’s strength, not ours. To fully realize the potential to stand strong in this life we must realize and accept our weakness and our need for the strength of the Lord. We have no power to overcome the trials, tests, and temptations of this world. Our strength has limited endurance against the storms of life. It is only in the strength of Jesus Christ, who suffered and endured all things without failing, that we will be able to also stand. This requires humility. We must not seek to defend what strength we can muster but must instead relinquish the control of every situation to the power of God. Then we will be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power!
Here are the five things I learned about strength today, and how they apply to our lives. I have emphasized the identical word we are studying in each passage.
- My faith will be strengthened by believing that God has the power to fulfill His promises, no matter how contrary to present circumstances those promises appear. In Romans 4:18-21 we read about Abraham, and Paul says, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations…Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
- I will be strong enough to serve others who are undeserving when I consider how Jesus served me when I was undeserving. It’s called grace, and Paul tells his protégé Timothy, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)
- When I trust the promises of God, and dwell in His grace, I will be strong enough to be content with whatever situation in which God places me. Paul tells the people at Philippi, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13
- I know that whatever weakness I have, God can turn it into a strength when my heart is intent on obeying Him, serving Him, and fulfilling His purpose. Read carefully about these heroes of the faith from Hebrews 11:32-34. “…whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” WOW! Our weaknesses are turned to strength so we can do great things for God’s glory.
- And finally, I can and will be strong because I know that I am never alone, and Jesus is always at my side. Paul tells Timothy, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:16-18)
Now we know what Paul means when he says “ be strong in the Lord.” It’s up to us to apply these promises and actually be strong. Why not start today!