We all know people who are weak, both physically and spiritually. And, we know there are remedies for those who are weak. There are steps to take and procedures to follow that develops strength and prevents weakness. However, this study is concerning spiritual weakness —how may it be prevented and/or treated.
The Scriptures clearly show that when one obeys the Gospel he is a “babe in Christ” and, the same verse shows what to do to overcome it. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).
Sometimes our weakness comes from within us.
One’s attitude toward spiritual things can cause spiritual weakness. Often those who are weak do not realize it and consequently see no need to do better. If I’m not interested in becoming a strong Christian, then I’m not going to exert any effort in becoming one. The individual himself/herself must take the initiative in growing in the Lord. The penman of Hebrews 5:11-14 makes this point well. “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Some among the Hebrew brethren had been Christians long enough to grow far beyond where they had grown. Their number is many also today. Are you stronger in the Lord now than when you first became a Christian? If not, whose fault is it? Regardless of your circumstances, it is your own fault for not growing as you should and becoming spiritually strong.
God speaks of Israel as a nation being weak when they should have been strong. “How weak is thine heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou doest all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman” (Ezek. 16:30). God had given them the land of Canaan and provided all they needed to prosper, but they did not appreciate it any more than many today who care little about those things given them by others. Their heart is weak and they do not intend to do any better. Such people need to have the attitude of the Psalmist who said, “O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake” (6:1-4).
If you are weak, do you intend to repent and become strong? If so, when are you going to work on it? Today is the day!
Many are weak, do in part, to influences exerted upon them by others. It is hard to rise above those around you. Most never even try. Their attitude is, “why should I do any better if no one else is?”
There have always been more than enough bad examples through the ages. Israel was warned about the evil influences of Egypt and Canaan. “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances” (Lev. 18:3). “And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them” (Lev. 20:23). “When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations” (Deut. 18:9). Israel was to follow God’s commands instead of the nations around them. “Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD” (Lev. 18:4-5).
In 2 Chronicles 30:7 we read, “And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see.” Solomon wrote, “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Prov. 22:24-25).
To say we simply followed those around us will be of no profit on judgment day. Those who are so inclined will not be excused simply because those around them did not show the proper example and influence. The judgment of God rests upon both those who exerted improper and bad examples and those who followed them. No comfort will be given to either. We must follow righteous examples and influences, not evil ones. “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God” (3 John 1:11).
The strong ought to be encouraging the weak and showing them what the Lord requires of us all. The righteous can say as Isaiah 35:3-4, “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.”
There are many excuses of the weak. To sit back and excuse ourselves for never progressing beyond the first principles will not work (cf. Luke 14:15-24). Just because there are always weak members does not mean you have to be among them. None the less, many make excuses for themselves.
Some excuse themselves because they feel they are already better than some. This sentiment apparently comforts those who feel justified in their weakness. How could it be a comfort to realize you are among those who are closest to the bottom? You are judging yourself according to the lowest standard!
Some excuse themselves because of hypocrites in the church. There are many hypocrites in the church, but you don’t have to be among them. Other people is not the proper standard, God’s Word is. Challenge yourself according to the Word of God, not others. The Lord will judge hypocrites and he will judge you. As I’ve always heard, I’d rather be under the same roof among a few hypocrites in worship than spend an eternity with them in hell.
Some excuse themselves by saying they are busy with their family. While we appreciate parents who are concerned for their children, obeying the Lord and growing to strength in his work is the best medicine for the family you could ever give them. Playing sports and being wrapped up in school activities may be a lot of fun, but such will not be sufficient to satisfy God’s judgment. We must be busy in God’s business and devoted to his service.
Some excuse themselves because they don’t see the need to grow. They think there is nothing wrong with where they are spiritually and therefore don’t intend to do any better. They often become offended when approached about doing better.
Let’s face it, many are weak because they have never applied themselves to the work of the Lord and don’t intend to. The Lord’s church has always been plagued with weak members and always will. However, that does not excuse our lack of efforts to help them grow. The strong must not be content to leave the weak alone. The work of the strong is to always encourage, exhort, persuade, entice and yes, reprove, rebuke, reprimand and admonish as well. This work will never cease.
(Part #2 next month)