Joyce Meyer - Our Weaknesses
Well, thank you for joining us on, "Enjoying everyday life". And, I do believe that if you hear the word you will enjoy your day so much better. Today, I want to talk about our weaknesses. We all have weaknesses. Thank God we all have strengths. But, I think most of us would admit that we probably worry about our weaknesses too much, and compare ourselves with other people and think we should be able to do what they do. But, I read something interesting just yesterday, that the term weakness, when it's used in the Bible, doesn't refer to things were not good at. It's referring to the weakness that is in our flesh if we don't learn how to lean on God in every single thing.
And, I think the thing that we have to learn is that we really can do nothing apart from him. The Spirit's willing but the flesh is weak. And, it's not just weak in one area, it's just weak period. And so, when we focus, what we focus on is what becomes the biggest thing to us. That's why if you focus on someone's faults you can totally lose sight of all the things that they're good at. Or, if you just focus on your problems, you can totally lose sight of all the blessings that you have in your life. And, I think we all know that satan will do everything he can to help us focus on the wrong thing. And so, I think it's good to know your weaknesses, so you can pray about them and be prepared to resist them when they come.
So, I know, for example, that one of my weakness, probably my biggest one is impatience. But, I'm not like, impatient as far as waiting on God is concerned or that kinda thing. It's more with like, if I have a plan for what I want to do, and then somebody, foolishly, you know, if it's a real need that's one thing but if somebody wants me to go in another direction, I can get pretty impatient. And, I still interrupt people too much when they're talking. That's because I like to talk. And then, I have a little problem with pride, like most of us do, I think. Matter of fact, I think we'll probably see by the end of the teaching today that, that's probably, all of us, that's our number one problem. That was the sin that got satan kicked out of heaven.
And so, naturally, he wants to tempt all of us with that. And, pride can basically, be defined as, "I". "I will..". "I am..". "I can do it". And so, Lucifer had a great position in heaven, he was in charge of all the worship, very close to God. And, he got a little bit ahead of himself and said, "I will exalt my throne above the throne of God". And so, he got kicked out of heaven.
So, I think all of us, we all really do have a problem with pride, whether we know it or not, I think that's the biggest thing that we have to stand against. You know, for example, pride will manifest in thinking I'm right, I mean, being totally convinced I'm right about something and then finding out later that I really wasn't right at all. And hopefully, those things would humble us but I think it's something that just has to keep happening over and over. And so, also got a little selfishness in there that I still have to deal with. Thank God, I'm not where I used to be. I'm not where I need to be but I'm not where I used to be. And so, we do really have to focus on our growth and how far we've come. If all you look at is how far you still have to go, you'll be overwhelmed.
So, let's just look at a few scriptures. First of all, 2 Corinthians 1:8 and 9, "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of the affliction that we experienced in asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death". But now, you gotta listen to this. So they went through all these terrible things, why? "But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead". So I was just thinkin' about Paul. And certainly, not to be disrespectful to anything about Paul but I think he probably had to have a little weakness in the area of pride because that's what God told him, which you're gonna read in 2 Corinthians 12 here in a minute, about why God would not remove the thorn in his flesh. He said, "To keep you from being conceited by all the revelations that I've given you".
And, if you think about Paul, he was very intelligent, highly educated, born in the right family, lived on the right side of town. He wasn't just a pharisee, but a pharisee among pharisees. I mean, according to the law, he kept every little tiny bit of the law. Well, he changed dramatically when he met Jesus on that Damascus road. But, I think that, that probably was always a little bit of a problem for him. And sometimes, the more natural smarts we have the harder it is for us to lean and rely on God because we really probably could do it by ourself. I think there's people that do all kinds of things that don't lean on God, but I'm not sure that they can do them and be really happy, or do them and really have any peace.
So, I think that's interesting. He said, all these things happen to us so that we would rely, not on ourselves, but on God. And then, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, he says, "So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of satan to harass me". So, it wasn't something God did to him, it was a messenger of satan. And, Paul asked God three times to remove it and he said, "No, my grace will have to be sufficient for you because", I mean, in essence, he was saying if you don't have this you're going to become conceited.
And, let me ask you a question. Don't our problems humble us? Sometimes when we think we've just got it all together and everything's going right and, "Well, I would never do that," and then, all of a sudden, you have one of those fall apart days. It's like, "Well, now I'm not feeling so good about myself". So, let's take a look at some more things that the Lord said about our weaknesses. Matthew 26:41, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak". So, what I get out of that is that when we know that we have a certain weakness in an area, that's an area that we should be praying about all the time. Not just wait until all of a sudden, you're in trouble, and then pray about it. But, pray about it all the time. Everyday pray about it.
If a person has a problem with overeating, they don't need to wait until they've got a plate full of food and are already in the midst of overeating. They need to pray about every day, "Lord, I know that's a weakness. Help me eat what I need to be healthy, but not to overeat". Or you know, whatever the situation might be. I have a certain thing that I pray about. I don't pray about it everyday because sometimes I forget. But then, when I forget I have an episode and it reminds me to pray about it again.
Just an area that's difficult for me that's still connected to my childhood, the abuse in my childhood, and I know that only God can deliver me from it. But, it's kind of apparent in scripture that God leaves a certain amount of weakness in all of us. Because, I mean, if you really stop and think about it, if you were good at, and strong at every single thing, why would you need Jesus? So then, we would end up not leaning on him and not relying on him and taking credit for all the things that he does. "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation". There's no point in praying that you won't be tempted.
And, I think, we think sometimes, "Oh, if I just wasn't tempted, if I just wasn't tempted". But, the Bible says, "Temptation must come". How's our faith tested if we never have anything to use it on? Why would I need God if I could do everything myself? So temptation must come but he said, "Pray that you don't enter into the temptation". And, that's the same thing really, in the Lord's prayer, "Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil," so, don't expect to not be tempted. You will be tempted. And trust me, the devil knows you better than you know yourself and he sets you up to tear you down. He knows what your weaknesses are and, oh, for example, like, if you're really tired. I say sometimes if I'm really tired not feeling good, I'm better off just to go lock myself in a room somewhere and not even try to be, you know, miss Christian, because how many of you are like that, if you feel real bad or you're real tired it's just harder to do the thing, right? Hmm...
So... However, there's nothing about any of us that's a surprise to God. So, he didn't like, call you into a relationship with himself and then, all of a sudden say, "Oh, my gosh, I didn't know you were going to be like that". He knows everything about us, every word that we will speak before we speak it, every thought we're gonna think before we even think it. All the days of our life are already written in his book before any of them took place. And so, guess what? God knows you and he loves you unconditionally, anyway. And, that being the case, he wants you to love you, anyway. 'cause you see, if you don't love yourself in a balanced way, I'm not talkin' about a selfish, self-centered way, then you really can't love anybody else. Because, it's very simple, you can't give away what you don't have. If you ask me for a drink of my water, I have water so I could give you part of it... But, if I don't have any, I can't give you any.
And, I think a lot of Christians, especially young Christians, I know, I went through this, I would hear all these things in church that I was supposed to do and especially, about the fruit of the Spirit and love, and boy, I tried. I mean, I tried really hard and I just couldn't seem to get it together. And, I didn't understand why if I wanted to be good and I wanted to be loving, why I couldn't be. And then, God showed me, he said, "You don't you don't love yourself. You can't...".
It's the same way with mercy, I had a very difficult time being merciful to people. I was more legalistic, more along the lines of you know, just do it and do it right, and you know, don't come up with excuses. And then, I started realizing that I needed to be more merciful but, once again, I couldn't seem to do it. And, God told me, "You won't give yourself mercy. You don't receive", see, I was hard on myself. So, if you're really hard on yourself, then you're gonna end up being hard on children if you have 'em, or other people around you. You can't give away what you don't have. So, God loves us and he wants us to receive that love. And, you haven't really received it until you can actually say, "I like myself. I love myself. I don't love everything I do, but I do love myself". And that's the way God is. He doesn't love everything we do. He doesn't like everything we do. He doesn't approve of everything we do, but he loves us and will continue loving us all the way through to wholeness.
"God chooses," 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, "God chooses what is foolish in the world to shame the wise: God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong". Isn't that interesting? Don't you always get amazed at some of the people God uses? I mean, in some of the greatest ways he uses people that you just think, "No, not really". Well, you know, when God first called me into ministry, I mean, I was the least likely person to be called into ministry. I did love God, as much as I knew how to. I didn't know much about it, but I can't ever remember really a time in my life when I wasn't aware of God. And then, when I was a nine-year-old child, I actually went to an altar call in a church I was visiting with relatives, and wanted to be saved.
And then, you know, the first thing I did wrong, I thought I lost my salvation and so, I continued in that mess for a long, long time. And it just took me a while to really understand the things about God that I needed to understand. And, I think new believers are like that. They don't know some of these things and, you know, you can even think that it's conceited to love yourself. And yet, when I say, "Love yourself," I'm not talkin' about doting on yourself, or thinking that you're better than everybody else.
The Bible says, "Don't think more highly of yourself than you ought to," but that's not an invitation to think lowly of yourself, either. And, I think that one of the biggest problems that people have, and I honestly mean this, I think one of the biggest problems that people have is they just don't like themselves. When it comes right down to it, a large majority of people are tryin' to be somebody else, they're tryin' to be like somebody else, or do what somebody else does, or they feel bad about themselves because they can't do what somebody else does. And, God made us all different, and you need to find what you have grace for in your life and do that. I always say, "God will give you grace for your place". Even if you're raising a hard to raise child or you're in a difficult marriage, if that's where God wants you, God will give you the grace to be in that place. That means he'll give you the strength and the ability to do it.
Now, I love Hebrews 4:15, says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning". Now, think about that. Every time that you are not strong when you'd like to be strong, Jesus understands that. It's hard to think that he was tempted in every way just like we are, but he put on flesh, and it's the flesh that's weak. And, he took humanity on himself so he could sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses. And therefore, we can always run to him in our weaknesses, not feel condemned, because he understands.
Now, I don't know about men... well, there's a lot I don't know about men, but I just know, let 'em be right and things will go better. But, for women, it's something in our make-up, we want to feel like our husbands or our friends understand us. "I just want you to understand". And, I finally, taught dave to just say, "I understand". I know he doesn't all the time, but I said, "I just like to hear you say it". And so, the good thing is, is if you don't have one human being on earth that you feel like really gets you, or understands you, Jesus does. Isn't that comforting to know that he knows everything about you. Every single, teeny, tiny thing about you, he knows. And, guess what? His mercy is new every single day. Everyday, you get a brand-new clean slate to start with.
I think God divided the day up in 24-hour periods: basically, 16 to be awake and make mistakes, eight to recover from it. And then, get up the next day, the sun rises and we get to start all over again. Don't be foolish and promise God, "Oh, if you'll just forgive me this one time God, I'll never do it again". You might as well just tell the truth, "I'll definitely do it again, so better plan on forgiving me a lot".
We have so many weaknesses, so many things that we just cannot pull off without God. And I mean, he's gone to great lengths with me to prove to me that I just can't do anything without him. And I think the more you are doing for God, the more tempted you would be to get in pride if God didn't really keep you aware that you're nothing without him. Amen?
You know, when people are telling you all the time, "You're wonderful," or, "You saved their life" or, "You changed their life," you have to be at the point where that doesn't mean anything to you. And, I appreciate it, but it doesn't make me feel like, "Oh, you know, I'm really important". Now, there was a time when it did, but that was back in the very early days, and that was in my little days, see? There wasn't too much goin' on back when I was like that. I remember when I would sit and watch other preachers on TV and think, "I do not understand, God, why they are on TV and I'm not. I don't know why I'm still sittin' here teaching 20 people in my living room floor. I could preach circles around that guy". Well, that's why I was still in my living room floor. It was because I thought I was good, and God wants us to see that any goodness that comes through us is only a manifestation of his mercy and his grace.
So, Romans 8:26, thank God for the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses". Wow, "We don't even know how to pray as we ought to," this says. And so, "He prays for us and through us with groanings too deep for us to even understand". Pray about your weaknesses, but don't despise yourself because of them. Now, how do we deal with other people's weaknesses? Weakness is not just our problem, it's everybody's problem. No matter how good of a friend you have, there will be times when they're gonna disappoint you. There's gonna be times when they're not going to be there for you. Times when they're not going to understand you. And, if you're looking for a perfect friend that never disappoints you, then you might as well just go ahead and stay by yourself the rest of your life because you're never gonna find that person.
Well, it certainly helps me to deal with other people's weaknesses, the more God has shown me that I have a boatload of my own. Amen? Nobody's a perfect parent. I talk to so many people. My daughter and I were talking when she drove me here to the studio this morning and she was talkin' about some of the mistakes that she felt like she made with her older children. Maybe in, not making 'em take enough responsibility or you know, different things like that. And, you know, I made mistakes. I came out of a wounded background, and I'm amazed really, that I was, good of a parent as I was, which proves to me that God does give you a grace to parent. But, you know what? Kids are resilient. I mean, I got over what was done to me and it was horrible. And sometimes, it's just a decision that people have to make.
So, it's not gonna do you any good to feel guilty or to go around all the time saying, "Oh, I was a terrible parent," and you just, you gotta let go of those things and trust God to take even your worst mistakes and make somethin' good out of 'em. Don't we love Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to his purpose". So, dealing with other people's weaknesses. Galatians 6:1-5, "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual," and course right there, we probably all think, "That's me". "You who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keeping watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted".
So, I think any time that we are in a position where God gives us the grace to bring correction to someone else, we need to always approach it in a spirit of gentleness. And, one of the things I like to do, if I'm gonna have to bring correction to somebody, is tell them about some of the dumb things I've done to make them feel a little more comfortable, so they don't feel like that it's just them. And, I find if I'm vulnerable with people then they're more likely to be vulnerable with me.
So, it's not good to go to somebody like, "Well, I don't believe that you did that. I don't know how you could have possibly done that. I would have never done that". They're not gonna receive that. "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anybody thinks he is something, when he's nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each one will have to bear his own little load". So, what's he saying? Everybody's got their own little load of weaknesses. And so, we need to be merciful and be gracious when we're dealing with other people.
So, I pray for you in Jesus' name that you will not be frustrated and upset about your weaknesses. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't care about 'em, or pray for God to strengthen you. But, it does mean that feeling guilty and condemned about it is not the answer. The answer is to recognize it and say, "God, that's exactly why I need you". And, you know, one of the things that happens when people do focus on their weaknesses is they talk about, "I'm weak and I just don't have any self-control. I just, I can't do this. I never do anything right".