Never do anything which you know perfectly well is going to be the means of temptation to you. If you know that certain things, which may not be bad in and of themselves, generally get you down and you are a worse person afterwards than you were before, do not do them; never, as it were, provide yourself with the occasion to sin.
It is… of supreme importance that we consent to live not for ourselves but for others. When we do this we will be able first of all to face and accept our own limitations. As long as we secretly adore ourselves, our own deficiencies will remain to torture us with an apparent defilement. But if we live for others, we will gradually discover that no one expects us to be ‘as gods’. We will see that we are human, like everyone else, that we all have weaknesses and deficiencies, and that these limitations of ours play a most important part in all our lives. It is because of them that we need others and others need us. We are not all weak in the same spots, and so we supplement and complete one another, each one making up in himself for the lack in another.
The Corinthians had put the messenger who had brought this gospel message to them under scrutiny. They had analyzed his approach, his speaking style, and even his personal characteristics and had concluded there was nothing at all remarkable about him. If his message was truly sent by God, shouldn’t there have been something more special about him? Paul’s response is that the believers were missing the point. It is exactly because the message is so important that the messenger is so weak. Just like a treasure in an earthen vessel, it is not the fragile, breakable, disposable vessel that matters most but the treasure it carries inside. If that were not the case, the vessel might think it was the treasure! The life of the disciple must be modeled on the gospel itself.
We are looking for our own virtue, our own piety, our own goodness, and so live on and in our own poverty and weakness – today pleased and comforted with the seeming firmness and strength of our own pious tempers and fancying ourselves to be somewhat. Tomorrow, fallen into our own mire, we are dejected, but not humbled; we grieve, but it is only the grief of pride at the seeing our perfection not to be such as we had vainly imagined. And thus it will be, till the whole turn of our minds be so changed that we as fully see and know our inability to have any goodness of our own as to have a life of our own.
Our weaknesses can be a container for God’s glory. Hannah tasted salty tears of infertility. Elijah howled for God to take his life. David asked his soul a thousand times why it was so downcast. The thing is? God does great things through the greatly wounded. God sees the broken as the best and He sees the best in the broken and He calls the wounded to be the world changers. Never ever be afraid of being a broken thing.
There’s a part of all of us that longs to know that even what’s weakest about us is still redeemable and can ultimately count for something good.
When I cannot read, when I cannot think, when I cannot even pray, I can trust.
Don’t focus on what you can’t do today, do the things you can do. If we spend all our time thinking about what we have lost, we will not see what we have in our hands right now. God works with what we have, not with what we don’t have. The miracle is in your hands.
Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy.
God does not stand afar off as I struggle to speak. He cares enough to listen with more than casual attention. He translates my scrubby words and hears what is truly inside. He hears my sighs and uncertain gropings as fine prose.