When you think of “strength,” what comes to mind? A lot of us probably think of someone like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. That dude is jacked. On a good day he can bench 450 lbs. That’s the weight of a fully-grown male tiger. The Rock’s physical strength is no joke. People who have recently watched Encanto might think about Luisa, who could pick up a whole church and move it. Strength is how much weight you can carry, how much you can handle.
Another thing that may come to mind when you think of “strength” is what you’re good at. Talents or skills that you excel at. My strength is music, sports, math, etc. In order to be strong you must be good at something.
It’s not wrong to talk about strength in this context. I would describe The Rock as strong. However, these definitions only scratch the surface of what true strength is.
If you look towards scripture, you’ll see that they have a completely different approach to strength. Most people have heard of Phillipians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” This is that one Bible verse that Christian athletes or influencers share on social media sometimes. There’s also Nehemiah 8:10 where it says “do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Exodus 15:2 with “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” For the ladies, there’s Proverbs 31:25 with “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” My personal favorite is Isaiah 41:10 with;
“fear not, for I am with you,
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
These are a lot of different Bible verses, but they all say similar things. That we get all of our strength from God, from Jesus Christ. This captures so much more than are typical views of strength. With this, strength is just what we’re good at or what we can handle, it’s something so much deeper.
Strength is our ability to recognize and rely on God’s grace during our everyday life.
The Rock is extremely strong, but he is able to get that strong because God allows it. You see, without God we would not be able to do anything, even exist. Whether we realize it or not, every action we are capable of doing is because God is pouring out his grace and blessing onto those.
If strength is our ability to rely on God, how does God want us to grow in strength? It’s easy to say that strength is our ability to rely on God, but how does that look in a practical sense? There are many traits that signal strength, but there are three I want to focus on
A truly strong person is someone who is
Let’s break those traits down shall we?
First up is boldness. A bold person is someone who is willing to do something that others wouldn’t even think of doing and they are willing to speak out on the hard issues no one is willing to address. A strong person will make bold decisions when no one knows what to do next.
The opposite of boldness is complacency. A complacent person doesn’t go that extra mile and is fine stewing around in mediocrity This isn’t strength, because they are fine with living in idle comfort as opposed to doing what should be done.
In order to grow in boldness, you must be willing to do more than just the bare minimum. Take that hike down the long trail. If you see your friends doing wrong, step in and tell them to stop. Approach the new kid that just transferred and is having a hard time making friends. Do the things that make others uncomfortable, but are worth doing.
Second is courage. Courage is the ability to confront fear or pain. A courageous person still experiences fear and pain, but they don’t let that stop them from doing what needs to be done. I’m going to steal a line from the song “Seize the Day” from Newsies with “Courage cannot erase our fear, courage is when we face our fear.” A strong person will confront fear and risk to do the good that needs to be done.
The opposite of courage is cowardice. Cowardice is backing down from something out of fear. Strength goes beyond fear, and as such, cowardice can never be strength.
To grow in courage, be willing to do things despite the risk of pain or suffering. Go on that rollercoaster your friend loves. Have that hard conversation with a friend. Pray in front of the abortion facility. Be willing to push aside your fear to do the things worth doing.
Now we have confidence. Confidence is the ability to trust in your actions because you have trust in God’s will. A strong person has full confidence in God’s plan, and uses that confidence to push forward. You’ll notice that all three of these traits work together. Confidence is having full trust in your actions and knowing that they will lead to good things.
The opposite of confidence is doubt. Doubt is the lack of trust in God’s capacity to work through you. This lack of trust prevents people from doing hard things. By doubting God’s grace, the source strength is effectively cut off from the individual.
To grow in confidence, remind yourself of God’s grace every time you find yourself in uncomfortable circumstances. If you have a really hard test coming up, if you’re going on a mission trip to somewhere you’ve never been, or if you have to give your testimony to people who may look down on Christians, remember that God is with you in that moment, giving you the strength you need.
Strength is so much more than what the world defines it as. Strength is found in the full trust in God’s love for you, and that love should always be the motivation and reassurance of your actions.
the culture project • virtue