One of the many things I enjoy doing in my spare time is exercising. I’m not a gung-ho meathead or anything. I’ll just lift weights three or four times per week, mostly so I can have more energy and maintain some semblance of attractiveness for my wife. I don’t workout in a large gym, but when I did, I was always fascinated by the guys trying to lift heavy and show off for anyone willing to watch. Strength was measured by how much weight they could throw around and how loud they could grunt while doing it.
But I’m interested in real strength and boldness. The kind that will matter in my relationships. The kind that will matter for eternity. Let’s highlight several areas where Christians can model the kind of strength that matters to God.
- Calm in the face of persecution. First, we must realize that we will all face persecution if we are steadfastly following Christ (2 Timothy 3:12). Once we understand that, we can look at persecution for its good attributes. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” These trials serve to mold into us the character traits Christ can work with. It’s easy to be hateful when faced with persecution, but it ruins our impact on the world for Christ. With a quiet strength we must remain calm and use the power of the Holy Spirit to reply in kindness and generosity. We must respond as Jesus did (1 Peter 2:23).
- Learn to sacrifice. We should first begin by celebrating that we get to sacrifice. Submission and sacrifice shouldn’t be words we look down on but ways that we can show God’s love and strength to others. Most would look at the life of Jesus and question how his actions showed strength and boldness. In reality, it takes true strength to remove oneself and serve others. Rather than relying on others for satisfaction, we rely upon God. It then frees us to sacrifice in ways we never thought possible. Jesus even tied sacrifice to our salvation. Luke 9:23-24 reads, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” If we want to really find life in Christ, we must sacrifice and die to ourselves (Romans 12:1-2).
- Walking away. We typically don’t think of the strength of an individual when they walk away from a confrontation. In fact, they are most often viewed as a coward. Real strength allows Christians to openly flee things that would pull us away from God. We must resist the devil and his attempts to drag us down (James 4:7). In order to do that, it’s important that we stay focused on godly things. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 warns us that there are many whose influence is dangerous and evil. We are to stay away from them. Thankfully, there is still plenty of good in the world to focus on. Paul, in Philippians 4:8, reminds us, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.”
I can think of no better way to end than with the word of God.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand “