I place my feet shoulder width apart. My shins brush up against the metal bar ladened with multiple weight plates on either end. I bend at the waist, angle my knees, keep my back straight; my slightly callused hands grasp the bar. I line up my shoulders and knees, and check that I have the proper form that will assist my lift but avoid injury. With a short exhale and a burst of exertion, I straighten my legs and back and hoist the barbell in the air in a successful dead lift.
Each time I workout, I challenge myself to work hard, lift heavier. Because of my effort, I am stronger than I used to be. There is a direct correlation between how hard I work and how strong I am. It’s awesome.
But when I try to make often elusive spiritual principles fit the physical laws I know so well, I find myself getting stuff backwards. I start thinking I just need to work harder to increase my faith, get that breakthrough, be healed. And if that door is not opening or I’m struggling with the same old things, my spiritual performance must be lacking.
But that’s not necessarily true. If I want to build my spiritual muscles the same way I build my physical muscles, I need to recognize that God is my source of strength. It doesn’t come from me trying harder.
Here are five verses that remind us where our strength and power come from.
- “Be strong in the Lord and HIS might power.” (Ephesians 6:10) Our spiritual strength and power come from God. It is not OUR might or effort or power that makes things happen. Thank goodness.
- “Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says The Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6) God is quite clear in this verse: his spirit gives us what we need.
- “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) We’ve all faced giants and trials in our lives that leave us weak in the knees and perhaps weak in our faith. No matter what our circumstances, we can—and should–find our strength in the joy of the Lord. Because he never changes.
- “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) We are not alone. No matter how hard I try in my own power, I can never come close to God’s power, strength, presence, and righteous right hand.
- “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29) This verse is preceded by God’s qualifications: “The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.” That is our source of strength. Good enough? I should hope so.
Go to the gym if you want to build your physical muscles. The more effort you put in there, the greater your results. But if you are feeling spiritually weak, God has already done the heavy lifting for you.