Judges 07: Powerful weakness

Judges 7:1-25

Judges 7:1-7 – Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.”


Imagine you are the owner of a thriving worldwide company, and you are hiring someone to be the new COO. What would you do? You would look to hire the most qualified person for the job. Am I right? You would look at their resumes, their past experiences, their qualifications, and choose the most suitable candidate to take the company forward. You would not choose someone who just graduated from High School with no work experience and past achievement. It is fair to say that we always prefer someone with a good resume over someone with no experience. And perhaps that’s why we have trouble understanding the Bible. Because the Bible is not obsessed with resumes as we are. In fact, the Bible frequently goes against this tendency. The Bible tells us that God oftentimes calls unqualified people and assigns them an impossible task. If we look at the people that God chose in the Bible, most of them would not be hired in our church. For example, King David wrote most of the Psalms, but I am sure he won’t pass the interview to be our worship pastor. “David, you are such a great worship leader. You have a beautiful voice and you wrote wonderful songs. Tell me about your past.” “Oh, I slept with a woman who is not my wife and killed her husband to cover it up.” Cross out his name from the list. Apostle Paul wrote most of the New Testament, but I am sure we won’t hire him to be our teaching pastor. “Paul, you are a very gifted teacher. You have a brilliant mind and your writings are second to none. Is there anything we need to know about your history?” “Yeah, I put some of your church members in jail and killed a few dozen of them.” “Thank you for your time. Next person.” And the same is true for Gideon. If we want someone to lead the nation in a war, we won’t choose a weak cowardly man like Gideon. But he is the man God chose to save Israel.

So, last week we looked at the call of Gideon. God came to the cowardly Gideon and called him, “A mighty man of valour.” And what God did was He was speaking prophetically. God did not speak to Gideon based on what he was, but based on what God was going to make him into. In other words, Gideon is not called because he is qualified; He is made qualified because of God’s call. Gideon is not a conventional hero; He is a weak hero. But as we are about to see in this story, Gideon’s weakness is not a handicap; it is an advantage. Because through it, God wants to tell us that His power is most fully displayed when we are weak. So, now before the big battle begins, God wants to teach Gideon an important lesson. The lesson is this: We are at our most powerful in God when we are at our weakest in our own strength. And this is a lesson that Israel needs to relearn all the time, and it is a lesson that we still need to continually learn today. So, let’s look at the story.


I have three points for my sermon: The necessity of weakness; The encouragement in weakness; The victory from weakness.


The necessity of weakness


Judges 7:1-3 – Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod. And the camp of Midian was north of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.

So now, the two armies, Gideon’s and the Midianites, are camped close to one another. The battle is just around the corner. And there is a War 101 that everyone knows. It is this: The more soldiers you have in your army, the better the chance of winning. And Gideon is ready. After what happened with the fleece, Gideon is confident. He knows that God is with him, and God has given the Midianites into his hand. And from where he stands, he can see the vast number of the Midianites’ army. We will find out later that the Midianites have at least 135,000 soldiers in their army. And Gideon has 32,000 soldiers in his army. So, the ratio of soldiers is about 1:4 in the Midianites’ favour. This is not a good ratio and Gideon will need every single man if Israel is to win this war. But then surprisingly God says to Gideon, “Gideon, you have too many men in your army.” And Gideon is probably thinking, “God, did I hear you right? I think you might have said the wrong word. I think what you meant to say is I have too few men. I need more men. Not fewer men. There are 4 Midianites for every 1 Israelite right now. The odds of winning are not good.” But in the eyes of God, the ratio of 1:4 are still too many. So, God commands Gideon to let those who are fearful and trembling to go home. And this makes logical sense. It is a good psychological screening device. You do not want fearful soldiers because fear is contagious, and it can destroy the army’s morale. And maybe when God says, “Tell the fearful to go home,” Gideon is like, “Okay, that sounds good. I am leaving. Ciao.” And God is like, “Not you. You stay.” And maybe Gideon only expects a few hundred men to go home. But to his surprise, 22,000 men return home, and only 10,000 men remain. So, 70% of Gideon’s army walks away. I try to imagine if one Sunday 70% of our church attendance suddenly walk out of the church. I would probably walk out as well. That’s not an encouraging sight. I am sure Gideon is devastated by what he sees. The ratio of soldiers is now 1:13.5. That means for Israel to win the war, each Israelite needs to kill 13 to 14 Midianites. It is very unlikely. And God is not finished.

Judges 7:4-8 – And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.” So the people took provisions in their hands, and their trumpets. And he sent all the rest of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the 300 men. And the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

After Gideon is left with 10,000 soldiers, God says, “Gido, you still have too many soldiers.” At this point, Gideon is probably like, “You got to be kidding. This does not make any sense at all. In what war manual’s book is 10,000 soldiers too many against 135,000 soldiers?” Can you see how frustrating it is? From Gideon’s perspective, he has too few men. He needs more. From God’s perspective, Gideon has too many men. God wants less. But Gideon obeys God. So, he takes the men down to the water for the drinking test that God has set. Some of the men drink the water while kneeling, while some while lapping like a dog. And God says, “Send the people who kneeled home. Those who lapped like a dog stay.” When I was in Sunday School, my teachers told me why the lappers were better than the kneelers. They said that the lappers were more alert and watchful, while the kneelers were careless and only thought of their thirst. So, those who were left were the best of the best, the elites who were ready to fight the battle. And the moral of the story was, “Kids, don’t be like the men who went home. You want to be those who get chosen to fight. Make sure you are one of them. Don’t be a coward. Be brave.” I am grateful for my Sunday school teachers but they were wrong. Now let me tell you why a lapping soldier is better than a kneeling soldier. Are you ready? The answer is that is not the point. The moment we ask why lapping is the sign of a better soldier, we are missing the point.

What God is trying to do is not select the best kind of soldiers. God is not trying to create a group of well-trained elite soldiers. God is not after a particular kind of soldier; He is after a particular number of soldiers. So, Gideon tells the kneeling soldiers, “Go home.” “Why?” “Because you are not drinking right.” The drinking test is simply God’s way of reducing Gideon’s army. God intentionally takes away everything that Gideon could possibly trust in except God Himself. Until the odds are impossible for Israel to win the battle on their own, the number is too many for God. And out of the 10,000 men, only 300 men remain. So, Gideon now has less than 1% of the army he had previously. The ratio is now 1:450. For Israel to win the battle, each man needs to kill 450 Midianities. That’s not unlikely; that’s impossible. But that’s the point. The 300 men are not the epitome of Israel’s strength; they are the sign of Israel’s weakness.


So, here is a question we must ask. Why did God do it? Why reduce the number of men to 300? Here is why. Judges 7:2 – 2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ So, the reason why God wants to reduce the number of men in Gideon’s army is God wants Gideon and Israel to know for sure who gets the glory from this war. God wants them to look back at the war and think, “There was no way we could have won this war. It was impossible for us to win. There were too few of us and too many of them. The only reason we won is that God is with us. This victory belongs to God and the glory is His. Our only part is to trust God and obey Him.” God fully knows Israel’s propensity to boast in their own strength. Israel will either praise God for this victory or they will boast in themselves. Dale Ralph Davis puts it this way. “Because of the tendency of God’s people to glorify their own efforts, to trust in their proven methods, to credit their own contributions, to think well of their cleverness, Yahweh frequently insists that his people be reduced to utter helplessness, so that they must recognize that their deliverance can only be chalked up to Yahweh’s power and mercy.” If God does not reduce the number of men, God might get a mention in the footnote, but He would not be the headline news. However, when 300 men go to war against 135,000 soldiers and win, God will be the headline news of every news outlet. That’s why God intentionally reduces the number of men until it is impossible for Israel to boast in themselves.


Does not this speak to all of us? Can you see the evil tendency in us to steal God’s praise? And isn’t that why oftentimes God has to make us realize how inadequate we are before He trusts us with His work? God knows we are very prone to rely on ourselves. We are very prone to steal the praise that belongs to God. Our nature is such that if there is the tiniest opportunity to boast of our own strength, we will. And as soon as we think we deserve credit, we take away the glory from God that He deserves. That’s why God cannot trust us with His work until we realize how inadequate we are to do it. God desires us to depend fully on Him in all things. And God is always at work to achieve this objective in our lives. Let me take it a step further. Get this. God is so determined in His preference for weakness that He often must weaken us first when He wants to use us. And can I be honest with you? This is the hardest lesson I must learn as a preacher. There is something in me that continues to believe that I have what it takes to be a good preacher. I have what it takes for God to use me. That God is lucky to have me on His side. I know better than to voice it out in words but I hear that whisper in my heart again and again. That is why before God can use me, he has to destroy my delusional sense of strength. I remember when I graduated from Bible College in 2009, I was ready to change the world. I graduated as one of the best students, and I believed that I was good enough to do mighty works for God. I was ready to transform this church. But everything was centred on me. I wanted to do God’s work but I relied on my own strength. I wanted the praise and glory for myself. And before I had the opportunity to do anything, I was suddenly diagnosed with leukemia. At first, it did not make sense. Why did God allow this to happen to me? Why did He make me extremely weak? But it was when I was helpless on the hospital bed that I realized how prideful I was. It was then that I understood that my strength is not an advantage. When I think that I am strong, I am actually weak. But when I am weak, then I am strong. Because it is only when I embrace my weakness that I know how strong God is.

So, let me give you a warning that echoes throughout the Bible. Listen. Our strength is more dangerous than our weakness because our strength often keeps us from relying on God’s strength. When we think we are strong, we don’t seek God’s grace because we don’t think we need it. And maybe the reason we are where we are right now is that God is at work to convince us of the absolute necessity of weakness. God intentionally reduces the size of our army because He wants us to know how weak we are. Because then and only then, do we learn to lean on God’s strength. Listen. God does not simply work in spite of our weakness; God works in and through our weakness. So, when we hear a terrible diagnosis from our doctor, when we suddenly find ourselves out of a job, when our marriage is on the verge of collapse, when we suddenly lost a person we love, when we run out of ideas on what to do with our children, we should see those moments as our army being reduced. Those are moments of decision: will we clench our fists toward God or will we lean into God like never before?


The encouragement in weakness


Judges 7:9-11 – That same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. 11 And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outposts of the armed men who were in the camp.

Imagine if you are Gideon. You started with 32,000 soldiers. And now you only have 300. And the numbers of the enemy are still the same. How would you feel? You would feel discouraged. You would be afraid. Am I right? And God knows exactly how Gideon feels. He is very sensitive to Gideon’s condition. So, God says to Gideon, “Gideon, go and fight the Midianites for I have given them into your hand. But if you are afraid, go down to their camp first and I will encourage you by what you will hear there.” And Gideon says, “Afraid? Me? Okay, I am going. Purah, come with me.” Can you see how Gideon is not William Wallace? He does not have a brave heart. Okay, different generation. Gideon is not a man of steel. He is not Superman. He is a man with lots of fear. He is an ordinary man just like you and me. So, when God says “If you are afraid, go down…” he goes down. But what I want us to see is God’s kindness toward Gideon. God knows Gideon is afraid without Gideon having to say it. And God goes the extra mile to give Gideon the assurance he needs. Once is not enough. Twice is not enough. Gideon needs to be reminded again and again. And God continues to be patient with Gideon. And look at what happens next.

Judges 7:12-15 – 12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance. 13 When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” 14 And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.” 15 As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.”

So, Gideon sneaks into the Midianites’ camp. And when he gets there, one of the Midianite soldiers had a dream and he is telling his comrade about the dream. And Gideon happens to be there to listen to his dream. And it is a weird dream. He dreamed that a loaf of bread tumbled into the camp and take down their tent. Let me put it in our context. It’s like having a dream that a big mac crushes your house. Does anyone ever have that dream? No one worries about a big mac crushing their house. It does not make any sense. And what is even more surprising is how his comrade interprets the dream. He says, “That big mac must be Gideon. God has given the Midianites into his hand.” I mean, what are the chances? A weird dream, an ironic interpretation, and Gideon happens to be in the right place at the right time to hear it. So, Gideon is hearing the same word that God has spoken to him from the mouth of the enemy. The timing and the event are too good to be true. Do you know what we call this? This is not a coincidence; it is providence. God’s hand sovereignly arranges this scenario to encourage Gideon in his weakness. And when Gideon hears the dream and its interpretation, he worships God. Gideon is transformed. So, he goes back to his men and says, “Arise, it’s time to fight. God has given the Midianites into your hand.” The fearful Gideon is transformed into the courageous Gideon. Because now he knows for sure that God is with him, and God has given the enemy into his hand. And don’t miss it. God is the one who takes the initiative to encourage Gideon. God knows exactly what Gideon needs before the battle.


Let that be an encouragement to us. God knows our fears. He knows how scared we can be. It is human to be afraid. The question is, what do we do when we are afraid? My hope is that we do what David did in times of fear. Psalm 56:3 – When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Listen. God is not offended when we are afraid. He is not angry when we are fearful. He is not harsh with us when we tremble. He does not ridicule us for our fears. He does not mock us because we are fragile. But He wants us to come to Him with our fears and put our trust in Him. Sometimes we have the wrong mindset about God. We think that God only uses those who are confident, assured, fearless, talented, etc. But that’s not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is the God who takes fearful people, strengthen their hands by grace, and makes them able to do His work. In other words, God does not need strong capable people; He wants fearful people who put their trust in Him. And God goes the extra mile to encourage His people because He loves them.

Parents, you understand this. As good parents, you remind your children all the time, “I love you and I am here for you no matter what.” Especially when your children are going through difficult times. You don’t say, “I told you that I love you when you were born. That’s more than enough. You should already know that I love you.” No. If we love someone, we are willing to assure them of our love. And this is what God does with us in our times of fear. Alistair Begg writes, “We can cast all of our cares upon our heavenly Father. We can lay all of our burdens and all of our fearfulness down at his feet. It’s okay to come to him and say we don’t know what to do.” I love that last part. It is okay to come to Him and say we don’t know what to do. Because that is precisely what God wants us to do. Think about it. God intentionally removes every temptation for Gideon to put his confidence in his army. God reduces his soldiers from 32,000 to 300. God intentionally makes him weak so that he learns to trust in God’s strength. And that’s what God often does with us. God has to remove many good things that have become too important to us so that we learn to trust in God and His strength.

But do you know how God often encourages us in our weakness? This is very counterintuitive, but it is true. By our obedience to His commands. Gideon is afraid. And God is trying to encourage him. So, God tells him to sneak into the Midianite camp. If I was Gideon, I would have said, “God, I know you know that I am afraid. Why would you want me to risk my life sneaking into their camp? That’s the last thing I want to do. Is that how you are going to encourage me? Can we just do another fleece test?” But God says, “Gido, it is when you obey me and go down to the Midianite camp that you will find the encouragement you need.” And this is how God works. This is how God encourages us. God reveals a little, we take a step. God reveals a little more, we take another step. And it is as we take that little step of faith that we see God’s faithfulness leading us and guiding us. Listen. God often gives us what we need as we do what He has told us to do. Our encouragement is found in our obedience to God’s word. And the opposite is also true. If we never step out in faith, if we never take a risk to obey God, we will never find the assurance of God’s presence with us. It is when we step out in faith in obedience to God that we find the assurance that God is with us.


The victory from weakness


Judges 7:16-18 – 16 And he divided the 300 men into three companies and put trumpets into the hands of all of them and empty jars, with torches inside the jars. 17 And he said to them, “Look at me, and do likewise. When I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. 18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”

With newfound confidence, Gideon leads his army of 300 into the battle. And he comes up with a weird battle plan. Now, I am not a military man but I love to read and watch military stories. Yet I have never read something as strange as what we just read, except for the battle of Jericho. So, Gideon is facing 135,000 men with 300 men. He is at a big disadvantage numerically speaking. And he comes up with a very strange strategy. Imagine the conversation Gideon has with his 300 men.

“Guys, we are going to attack the Midianites camp. I know the odds are impossible, but God has given them into our hands. We can do this. And I have come up with a battle plan.”
“That’s great. Tell us about it. What should we do? Should we aim straight for the commanders of the army and kill them first? I think that’s our best bet with the numbers we have.”
“Well, no. I know that’s how it is usually done in movies, but that is too mainstream. We are not going to do it.”
“Wow. Just as expected of you. You must have come up with a super genius strategy that we cannot think of. Tell us about it. What do we need? Smoke grenade? Arrows? Spears?”

“Actually, we are going to need trumpets, torches, and empty jars.”
“Trumpets, torches, and empty jars. Noted. Wait. Can you repeat that?”
“We are going to divide our army into three groups. Each group will carry trumpets, torches, and empty jars. We are going to hide outside their camp. And when I blow my trumpet, “tot to roo rot” all of you must blow your trumpets as well. And then we are going to smash the empty jar and shout out loud, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’ Are we good?”
“No, this is not good at all.”

Can we agree that this is a very weird battle plan? They are going to fight 135,000 men with trumpets, torches, empty jars, and shouting. It does not make any sense. And this strategy does not require any military skill whatsoever. Anyone can blow a trumpet, smash an empty jar, hold a torch, and shout. And the point is, trumpets, jars, torches and shouting are not the point. This is Gideon’s strategy. But if Gideon is going to defeat the Midianites, it is going to be the hand of God that does the work, not Gideon and the 300 men. And that’s exactly what happens.


Judges 7:19-23 – 19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. 22 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel were called out from Naphtali and from Asher and from all Manasseh, and they pursued after Midian.

Note carefully. When they blow the 300 trumpets, “tot to roo rot,” it is God who is on the move. It is God who set every man in the Midianites army against his comrade. All the 300 men have to do is pursue the Midianites who are running away from the battle scene. Do you think it’s strange that God would use such unlikely methods? If you know the God of the Bible, it is not strange at all. Because that’s what Christianity is all about. Christianity is not a religion for the elite, the best of the best, the 300. It is not. People often ridicule Christianity saying, “Christianity is not a religion for the strong. It is a religion for the weak.” And I would say, “Absolutely.” I cannot agree more. Christianity is not for those who are strong but for those who are weak. And this is something that we need to be comfortable with. In the economy of God, weakness is strength. It is when we are weak that we are strong because it is in our weakness that God’s power is made perfect.

Listen. God does not want strong Christians; He wants weak Christians who know that their God is strong. Because then no one can take credit but God. God chose Gideon not because he is strong; God chose Gideon because he is weak. That’s why God makes the army as small as it is. That’s why the battle plan is as weird as it is. Because God is saying to them and us, “I want you to know without a shadow of a doubt that I am the One who set you free. I am the One who does all the work. And I am the One who deserves all the glory. And you should worship no other god but Me.” None of the 300 men can return home singing of what they have done. They can only sing what God has done as they watched. Let’s finish the story.


Judges 7:24-25 – 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and capture the waters against them, as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan.” So all the men of Ephraim were called out, and they captured the waters as far as Beth-barah, and also the Jordan. 25 And they captured the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb. Then they pursued Midian, and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon across the Jordan.

So, Gideon seeks the help of the tribe of Ephraim, and they capture and kill two princes of Midian. And they bring their heads to Gideon. But the story is not finished, and we will continue next week. But here is where I want to draw your attention and I am done. Throughout the book of Judges, we see repeated patterns that God sends salvation not through strength but weakness. Gideon is a weak man from a weak family in a weak tribe, and he must face the Midianites with a weak army. God does not save through strength but weakness. Why? Because the story of God’s salvation in Judges points us to the ultimate story of salvation; it points us to the gospel. The gospel is not God saving us through strength but weakness. To save us from our greatest enemy, sin, God did not send a king who conquer the world with a superior army, but a king who humbled himself and laid down his life for us. Time and time again in Jesus’ life, we are confronted with his weakness. Jesus is the one who has absolute authority over heaven and earth. And we find him washing the disciple’s feet, the job of the lowest of servants. During his trial, he is mocked, spit upon, beaten, and he does not fight back. In fact, he gets so weak that he can’t even carry his cross. And he died being stripped naked and nailed to a cross, an ultimate picture of weakness. But through the weakness of the cross, the greatest victory happens. Jesus defeated the power of sin once and for all by dying on the cross. And on the third day, Jesus is resurrected as the ultimate sign of victory.

And the offer of the gospel is Jesus’ victory can be our victory. All we have to do is admit that we are weak. Admit that we cannot save ourselves. Admit that we need a Saviour. And Jesus is more than ready to save us. We cannot be saved if we think we are good or able. Jesus’ saving power only works when we admit that we have no goodness in ourselves. And maybe that’s why some of us are in a position of weakness right now. God brings us there so that we may learn to depend on Him. God wants us to have something far better than anything the world has to offer. And that is helpless dependence on Him. It is only when we know how weak we are that we are ready to experience God’s costly grace for us. And if we understand this, it frees us to boast about our weakness and make much of God. If we boast about our strength, people may look at us and think, “I wish I were more like that, but I am not.” But if we boast about our weakness, that makes people think, “That person is just as weak as me. But God’s grace sustains that person. If so, God’s grace can sustain me as well.” Christians are not people who boast about their strengths; Christians are beggars telling a bunch of other beggars where to find bread. Christians are people who boast in Christ alone. Let’s pray.


Discussion questions:


  1. What struck you the most from this sermon?
  2. Have you ever experienced moments where God intentionally reduce your army? What happened and what did you learn from it?
  3. “Our strength is more dangerous than our weakness because our strength often keeps us from relying on God’s strength.” Is this true for you? Why or why not?
  4. What is the relationship between obedience and God’s encouragement in weakness? Give examples
  5. How does the gospel enable you to boast of your weaknesses?
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