Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. - Vs 10 (NASB)
This verse sounds so good, but it is so hard to live out. Sure, I say I believe God is strong, but then I turn right around and place all my hope on my own strength and ability to handle the difficult situations of life. Yet I know going in that my strength is limited. It fails me every time. So why don't I take advantage of His strength? What keeps me from trusting in His power?
Paul uses three different words here for strength or power. The first one is usually translated "be strong." It really carries the idea of having your strength increased. It literally means, "to endue with strength, to receive strength, be strengthened, to increase in strength." Paul seems to be saying that we need to increase our strength, because he knows that the enemy we are up against is more than we can handle. Just take a look at verse 12. Our enemy isn't a flesh and blood one, but a spiritual one. And he has powers we don't possess. So Paul says that we had better increase our strength. But that extra power needs to come from a source outside of ourselves. It has to come from God. He says, "Be strong in the Lord." I like the way the New Living Translation puts it. "Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power." We can actually increase our feeble strength with His. We can access a power source that is far beyond anything we could ever imagine. Paul refers to it as the "strength of His might." Those are our two other power words. You could almost translate this phrase "in the power of His power." The first word seems to be talking about the extent of God's power. It is referring to His dominion. He doesn't just have power, He has complete, kingly, authoritative, sovereign power. Someone can have power, but no authority. God has both. He has power and the right and authority to use it. Everything and everyone has to submit to Him. He has ruling power. I don't have that.
So how do I increase my strength with His? The following verses seem to give us the answer. He says that we are to put on God's armor. Notice that Paul refers to it as God's armor. It is His armor that will allow us to "resist in the evil day." It is His armor that will allow us to "stand firm." But we have to remember that the armor belongs to Him. His armor consists of His truth, His righteousness, His gospel, His faith, His salvation, and His word. This isn't about my version of the truth. It isn't about my righteousness or my self-righteous acts. This isn't about the gospel according to Ken. This isn't even about my faith. It is about His. The word faith here can be translated "faithfulness." One of its definitions is "the character of one who can be relied on." That's why I think Paul is referring not to my faith, but to God's. I am protected by the faithfulness of God. He will never fail me. It is He who extinguishes all the flaming arrows of the evil one. This isn't about my meager faith, but God's unfailing faithfulness. It's also about His salvation, not mine. It is He who will save me, not myself. And it is His word that is my primary weapon. It's interesting that Paul uses the Greek word rhema here and not the more familiar logos. The word rhema refers to a "spoken utterance." It does not usually refer to the Scriptures in their entirety, but to a specific word from God. A rhema is a verse or portion of Scripture that the Holy Spirit brings to our attention with application to a current situation or need for direction. The sword God gives us to use is perfect for the situation. It is His word spoken specifically for the circumstances in which we find ourselves. It is His word made practical for each of life's situations.
So God wants us to increase our power by turning to His. He wants to supplement our weak strength with His. And He gives us all the armor we need to go into life's battles with all the power we need – His. We can stand firm because we have access to His power. We can have victory because His power has authority.
Father, help me to lean on your power and not mine. Help me to believe that your power is inexhaustible. Your strength never runs out. And Your strength comes with authority. You are sovereign and in control of any and every circumstance and situation that I encounter in my life. I shall not fear. Amen