The Bible teaches us that in our weakness, we are made strong if we rely on God (2 Corinthians 12:10). For that we can all feel relieved. We can trust in God to defend us and fight our battles. We know that we must rely on God for any strength that we might be able to claim. Indeed, all our strength comes from God. Since any strength that we have is not our own, does that mean that we don’t have to work to build our strength? Can we just sit back and relax while we wait for Christ to return? The answer is clearly, “No!” We cannot give up growing in strength just because that strength is not our own. While we know we are weak, we must become strong.
When Joshua was taking over the leadership of the nation of Israel, God told him through Moses, and personally, that he must be strong. In Joshua 1:7 we read an admonition to Joshua from God that we might also take to heart: “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”
Instead of telling Joshua to simply let things happen as they might because God was in control, He tells Joshua to be strong! The strength Joshua is told to have is for the conviction to follow God. It takes effort and courage to face the world that is so set against the ways of God. Strength is absolutely necessary for a Christian to build, develop, and nurture.
Increasingly, the world that we live in is turning away from God. Because of this, anyone who follows God will stick out like a sore thumb. To face the ways of the world and to overcome them we encounter inevitable conflict. Without strength, training, and preparation, we put ourselves in a position of vulnerability. Building up our strength is absolutely vital to our salvation as this world becomes more contrary to God.
It is on our responsibility to become competent and capable of making the right decision in God’s eyes as we navigate through this life. What that means is that we need to be accountable for our understanding of God’s Word. We need to own it. We need to prove the truth to ourselves so that we are strong. Unlike previous generations on the earth who did not have access to even read the Bible, we have the privilege to have God’s Word available to us constantly. We lack no opportunity to learn from the Word of God. Modern technology even allows us to carry a completely searchable Bible in our pocket. We simply have no excuse precluding our ability to become very strong in our convictions.
In an effort to become strong, we must remember that it requires more than adopting a set of correct beliefs. Strength is developed by exercise. It is not enough to know that we need to keep the seventh day- Sabbath; we need to know why. It is not enough to know that God is a Family; we need to know how those Family relationships are defined. The principle here is that knowing doctrine is not enough. We need to be able to prove doctrine – to ourselves. Only when we can prove doctrine to ourselves, does it become truth in our minds allowing us to withstand the evil we encounter (Ephesians 6:13-14).
If we are not absolutely strong in our beliefs, we fall prey to becoming influenced by rhetoric rather than truth. Without investing the effort to increase our strength in our convictions, we increase our odds of choosing paths of behavior that we will later regret, leading to death. Fortunately, we have the opportunity right now, to spend our efforts wisely – to build our spiritual strength by learning and proving our understanding. Indeed, it requires work to become strong, but our efforts will prove to be worthwhile. By unwavering in our commitment to follow God, we will reap a reward much greater in magnitude than our relatively tiny investment of time and effort today.