Sunday, June 20, 2004

The following are excerpts of a sermon yesterday by the Rev. Amos A. Dodge at Capital Church in McLean.

“God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty,” says 1 Corinthians 1:26.

If you have taken a stroll through the malls or any retail stores, you have seen signs, banners, balloons and salespeople reminding you to get a gift for the fathers in your life.

I have a Father’s Day gift from my now-married daughter that she gave me when she was 4. Felt letters glued to burlap say “Dad I love you,” and at the bottom, her handprint that had been dipped in paint. It cost only pennies to make, but it is priceless.

It is appropriate when giving gifts to those we love to give the best we possibly can. On this Father’s Day, let me suggest something we can all give to God our heavenly Father. Let me suggest we give God our weaknesses.

We all have weaknesses. The question is: What will you do with your weakness? Einstein was 4 years old before he could speak, and he did not read until he was 7. Beethoven’s music teacher once said of him, “As a composer, he is hopeless.” Thomas Edison’s teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Moses was a stammering, stuttering shepherd. David was so unimpressive he was overlooked by his own father when the prophet came to choose a king from one of his sons.

Most of us have a common response to our weaknesses. We deny them, defend them, excuse them, resent them, and perhaps worst of all, we attempt to hide them. We don’t want anyone to see our weaknesses. Then God comes along and says, “Let me see your weakness. Let me have your weakness,” and then He asks of us the unthinkable, “Let me use your weaknesses.” We recoil and respond, “No Lord, use my strengths.” The weakness you have, God wants, and God can use.

When Billy Graham was given the Congressional [Gold Medal] he said his first question when he gets to heaven will be “God, why me? I was unqualified and unlikely, why me?” Most of us are very ordinary. The good news is that God sees that and God says, “That’s OK, because I don’t look for natural strength, I choose to work through weakness and weak people.”

When I speak of weakness, I am not talking about sin or character flaws that through prayer and discipline you can change, but rather the limitations in my life I inherited or cannot change. We all have circumstantial limitations, financial limitations, relational limitations, emotional limitations, talent limitations.

There are four benefits of admitting and being grateful for weakness.

— It guarantees God’s help. The moment you say, “I can’t,” He says, “I can … and I will.” Paul learned this in his weakness. When he asked God to remove his weakness (the thorn in the flesh), God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in your weakness.” God is saying, no matter what you are going through, I am with you, I will empower and enable you.

— It prevents arrogance: (1 Corinthians 12:7) “Lest I be exalted above measure, a thorn in the flesh was given to me.” Thorns when given by God get my attention, keeps me humble, keeps me dependant on God and keeps me praying.

— Another benefit of admitting my weakness and being grateful for my weakness is that it causes me to value others. Strength breeds independence and an independent spirit that quickly begins to think “I don’t need anybody, I can do this alone.”

— And finally, admitting my weakness enables me to help others. Paul said, God comforts me in my troubles so we can comfort them in trouble, with the comfort we have received. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) God never wastes a hurt. What you are going through, God will use one day to help someone else.

So brothers, fathers, men … on this Father’s Day, let’s give our Father our weakness. He will then exchange it with His strength.

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