James Smith, 1860
"As is the man — so is his strength." Judges 8:21
These were the words of the kings of Midian, when requesting Gideon to put them to death himself, that so they might be quickly dispatched. But the words contain a general truth. Physically, the man's strength is according to his age, health, and discipline. And so in reference to religious matters. The natural man has only natural strength; but the spiritual man has spiritual strength. Yet the strength of spiritual men differ, there are degrees; and so the strength of the same man varies at different times, and under different circumstances.
As our age is — so is our strength; the new-born babe has but little strength; the young child has more; but the young man is expected to be strong.
As our health is — so is our strength; some are weak and sickly, and some are healthy and strong.
As our temperament is — so is our strength; some are timid and nervous, and others are courageous and hopeful.
As our discipline is — so is our strength; the soldier must be drilled and exercised, the wrestler and the racer must be taught and trained.
As the state of the heart is — so is our strength; if carnal, we are like Ephraim, who was called a silly dove, without heart; if backsliding, we are like Samson, when he lost his hair; if deeply spiritual, we shall be like Paul, whom nothing could daunt — but who could do all things through Christ strengthening him.
Spirituality, therefore, is of the greatest importance,
for as our spirituality is — so is our strength . . .
to resist Satan;
to overcome the world;
to crucify the flesh;
to put off the old man with his deeds;
to bear afflictions; and
to work for God and souls.
Is a man strong? He will undertake to do much, to do many things, to do difficult things. He will attempt great achievements. He will persevere in what he begins. He will overcome his foes. He will master his difficulties. He will triumph and be crowned.
It is folly for us to complain of weakness — unless we seek grace, and use means, that we may grow, regain our health, be recovered from our backsliding, and so become strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
In vain do we look for strength — but from the renewing of the Holy Spirit, and the deepening of our sanctification. It is the indwelling of the Spirit, and his gracious operations, which makes us strong. If we had more holiness, and more of the Spirit of God — we would be stronger. May the Lord strengthen us with all might, by his Spirit, in the inner man, that we may be no longer children — but become strong men, and by our strength, glorify the Lord.
Carry the idea to Jesus — as he is, so is his strength. As he is one with God, really and truly God, his strength is omnipotent, unchangeable, and eternal. To him all things are possible. The God man, has the strength of God and man, united in his glorious person, and that strength he employs for us.
But he will employ it wisely — for our good and his own glory.
He will employ it lovingly — as our circumstances require.
He will employ it holily — so as to secure our sanctification.
He will employ it according to his Word — making it perfect in our weakness.
It is a mercy to feel our weakness, otherwise we would not value the strength of Jesus; and it is well that we are required to make use of strength, or we should not apply to Jesus, to strengthen us with strength in our souls. But for the strength of Jesus — we must fail. But by his strength — we can do and suffer all things. His own arm wrought our salvation, effects our deliverances, and will sustain us under all our troubles. On that arm we may lean, and by that arm we shall be led and defended, until we arrive at our Father's house.
Precious Savior! to your strength I look, on your promises I rely, and on your faithfulness I depend! You shall lead me by your right hand, guide me with your eye, and at last, place me before your face forever.
Holy Spirit, daily renew my mind, revive my graces, increase my spiritual strength — that I may work for Jesus, win souls for God, defeat Satan in every engagement, and meet the last enemy without fear or trepidation!
My Heavenly Father, you have commanded my strength, strengthen I beseech you, that which you have wrought in me, and make me strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, for your mercies' sake!