The sky couldn’t be more stunning for a June summer day. Blanketed across the sky are dazzling blowoff cirrus clouds whipping with the cumulus, as widespread convection over the Plains and Mississippi River valley stir in their aerial splendor.
Yet atmospheric energies haven’t been the only things churning as of late.
The past few days, my heart has been pounding faster than an “I am Legend” darkseeker. Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but point being I’ve gained some incredible, new life, having joined to an unshakable revelation that had been brewing for weeks. Saturday, the light bulb went off; Sunday, the word was confirmed (thanks in part to an anointed man destined for Pacific greatness).
Once the clock struck noon yesterday, I knew I had undoubtedly heard the heartcry of God.
Isn’t it amazing when the Holy Spirit overflows unfathomable refreshment, even when shame and guilt are inches away?
You see, I’ve been loving people (from those I love most intimately to strangers on the street) with all my heart, but I haven’t loved them with all my strength! So I suppose it’s fair to say I really haven’t been loving people with all my heart, since complete love breaks the yoke of weakness. One can’t be so content that he or she is exalting Christ with a reverent heart. It must be fearless as well, since true love accompanies AND is supported by true strength. And the hard truth, in my case, is that I haven’t let maximum strength permeate my relationships. Even at 95%, I am very unsatisfied.
The fascinating part to this story is I haven’t felt as if I’ve fallen down. Instead, I’ve been raised up. I haven’t been knocked out; just simply awakened.
Now since grace is rooted in love, we can interchange them for sake of point and emphasis.
Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 12:9 with the substitution applied:
“'My love (grace) is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Here, Paul makes a worthy association between power (strength) and love (rest). Paul knew his apostolic ministry could not be demeaned by the schemes of the enemy. Paul knew weakness couldn’t ultimately separate him from God’s love and the assignments granted to him. He possessed complete assurance and faith in the manner in which Christ qualified him. Despite the times he had fallen short, Paul understood the links connecting holy satisfaction to suffering and sin.
2 Corinthians 12:10 – “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
So if we are to love, we must desire to love with the best of that which we’re given. The Great Commandment, from Deuteronomy 6:5, concludes with loving God with all strength, suggesting love is only superficial without a submissive brokenness to sacrifice. Just imagine a husband loving his wife, but not giving up an unhealthy addiction or destructive habit for the sake of greater love. Too much of love these days is pick-a-little, talk-a-little. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap.
But God’s grace and love is distinguished by unimaginable strength. It’s a facet of His nature we must all collectively aspire to. So if I find myself casual to the point of compromise in any one area, I should know I am not loving with my everything. And how can I dare say that isn’t sin?
In Jeremiah 16:19, Jeremiah cries out to the Lord, acknowledging him as both strength and fortress. Thus, we can realize strength is not confined to just power, but represents security as well. The Hebrew meaning (“azaz” – to be firm and strong) is referenced approximately 100 times in the Old Testament alone. That right there should tell us “strength” is a big deal.
When we share God’s love with others, we need to recognize that God loves with all His strength, not just all His heart. And yes, heart should imply strength, but at the same time, their discreteness must be taken into account. The fact is many people love with their hearts, but not enough foundational strength as backing. And since love without strength is powerless, our lives must exemplify a heaven-aimed passion saturated with strength (see 2 Sam. 6:14 – David dancing before the Lord with all his strength).
Jeremiah 19:21 – “Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know My hand and My strength; and they shall know that My name is the Lord.”