If you are a believer on any group on whatsapp or use Raphsody of Realities as a devotional guide, you might have read 27th January 2016’s devotional titled “He is Your Strength And Shield”.
The purpose of this post is to warn all who use this devotional or read it online to be very discerning. I have come to observe the incessant abuse of biblical texts to say what I consider the mind of the author and not the mind of Christ. Scripture has a context and it is pretty heart breaking how preachers take Scriptures out of context to push their own agenda and speak their mind while disregarding the context of Scripture.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on this. Some will consider this post as divisive. But considering the number of people who use this devotional, it is the more important to point out the dangers this devotional poses. I must admit there are days the author is spot on with his commentary on Scripture. But most often, he is not faithful to the biblical text. And half-truth is no truth at all.
Now to today’s devotional:
…the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1).
In the Psalm above, David wasn’t asking the Lord for strength. It lacks spiritual wisdom to keep praying and asking the Lord to give you strength when, already, He’s the strength of your life. If the Lord is the strength of your life, you don’t need to ask Him for strength, because if you have Him, you have strength; therefore, no room for weakness in your life.
This commentary is problematic because the interpretation denies the exact reason David acknowledged God as his strength. David is in danger and he turns to the Lord in prayer in His weakness, acknowledging that His source of strength is the Lord. However, the writer is telling us “it lacks spiritual wisdom to keep praying and asking the Lord to give you strength”. What kind of biblical advice is that, which denies human weakness and speaks against importunity in prayer as our Lord commands in Luke 8:1?
Indeed, weakness is a part of human living, the believer not exempted. And to make “no room for weakness in your life” is to live in denial of reality. This devotional seem to suggest strength from the Lord is a giving, you don’t need to ask for it; “If the Lord is the strength of your life, you don’t need to ask Him for strength, because if you have Him, you have strength”. Is that an accurate representation of what David was saying? The point the writer is missing is that, Psalm 27 is actually a prayer. In v4, David says “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple”. After acknowledging God as his strength, David says he is going to seek after God, enquire in his temple, which obviously includes seeking for the strength he has acknowledged. Further on in v7, David says “Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me”.
Is David confused if it lacks spiritual wisdom to ask for strength? In Psalms 61:1-2, this same David prayed that “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I”.
If we are to go with Pastor Chris’ assertion of “lack of spiritual wisdom”, then David is guilty. Because throughout the Psalms, we see David repeatedly calling on God either for deliverance or protection.
The devotional continues:
The Apostle Paul, with this understanding, made an extraordinary claim in 2 Corinthians 12:10. He said, “…for when I am weak, then am I strong.” He knew His strength was the Holy Spirit that dwelt in him. No wonder He said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).
The Holy Spirit is the source of true strength, and He lives in you. Therefore, never confess weakness. Declare always that you’re strengthened and marvellously helped of the Lord. Romans 8:26 says, “…the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities…”; in other words, His strength is available to you, and for you, when you think you’re at your weakest.
“The Apostle Paul, with this understanding…” What understanding? The understanding that, “In the Psalm above, David wasn’t asking the Lord for strength. It lacks spiritual wisdom to keep praying and asking the Lord to give you strength when, already, He’s the strength of your life. If the Lord is the strength of your life, you don’t need to ask Him for strength, because if you have Him, you have strength; therefore, no room for weakness in your life”
I get the sense the author is saying an understanding of his opening statement or the meaning inherent is the basis by which 2 Corinthians 12:10 was written. I think it will be best to find out the context of 2 Corinthians 12:10 to ascertain if Paul’s words will agree with Oyakhilome’s commentary.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
In the above, Paul is speaking about a weakness he had; a thorn in the flesh (v7). He says he “besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from [him](v8). Will we charge Paul of “lack of Spiritual wisdom” for praying thrice for a release of his thorn in the flesh? The Lord’s answer to Paul occasioned 2 Corinthians 12:10: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (v9).
Nothing suggests here Paul has ” no room for weakness in his life”. Rather, Paul is glad about his weaknesses. He takes pleasure in them. He is not fighting his weakness. Paul stated the facts about his weakness. He acknowledged it. He didn’t walk about saying “I have no weakness”.
Contrary to Pastor Chris’ proposition that “ never confess weakness, declare always that your’re strengthened and marvellously helped of the Lord”, Paul first acknowledged his weakness. Then he further went on to state the purpose of his weakness: “that the power of Christ may rest upon me”. It is based on this he declared “for when I am weak, then am I strong”
All he is saying is that the power of Christ is manifested in my weakness.
Finally, Christians are not supermen or women. We have no power in ourselves. Our strength comes from God and as believers, we must learn to go to God again and again and again to receive strength. The Bible undoubtedly acknowledges this and any teaching contrary to this must be viewed with suspicion. It is rather lack of spiritual wisdom not to go to God for strength:
Seeing hen that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).