Facebook “Memories” reminded me of this a few days ago, and I’ve not been able to forget it.
We had stopped on the interstate at a Pilot Truck Stop for a bathroom/coffee break. After paying for the coffee, I realized I did not know which was my exit. I said to the clerk, “Do people get turned around in here?” She laughed, “All the time.”
Then she said, “The exit to the truckers actually goes up a few steps, but the exit to the cars is at street level. Last week we had an elderly woman on a walker in here. I called to tell her she was headed to the wrong exit. She turned around with fire in her eyes and said, ‘I may be old, but I’m not stupid!’ and went right on. When she got to the door, she saw her mistake, and turned around and went toward the other exit. But she never said a word as she passed me.”
I smiled. I know how that is. There is a simple line that explains her rude behavior: Only the strong can admit they’re wrong and apologize. Everyone else will try to justify themselves, find excuses, or even place blame. The strong will have no trouble admitting to the error and not try to hide it.
The more I learn of God’s word and human behavior, the more I see a number of activities which only the strong can do. Here’s a partial list. You’ll think of more…
One. Only the strong can humble themselves. Scripture promises that if we humble ourselves, God will exalt us. But if we exalt ourselves, He will bring us down. The choice is clear-cut. The strong and wise will humble before God and before others.
Two. Only the strong can serve others. Don’t we love the picture of our Lord in John 13 as He lays aside the outer garment and stoops to wash the feet of the disciples. Read what He says in 13:14 and it becomes apparent that Jesus is working from a position of strength and not weakness.
Three. Only the strong can admit to being wrong. Scripture calls it “confession” (see I John 1:9), with the Greek word homologeo meaning “to say the same thing” as God. Anytime I can agree with God in Heaven about something, I’d say that is a strength and not a weakness.
Four. Only the strong can ask for help. The weak person gets the idea that to ask for help is showing a weakness. Which is laughable, of course. We are all weak at one time or other. To ask for help is common sense and should be something we all know how to do.
Five. Only the strong can brag on others. When I call attention to what others–colleagues, co-workers, family, friends, even enemies–are doing well, I show myself to be a healthy minded person, one able to appreciate achievement. But the insecure person is convinced that by calling attention to the strength of someone, he’s making himself look weak. Quite the opposite.
Six. Only the strong can thank others for their kindnesses. When I thank someone, I’m admitting to an indebtedness to them for something they have done. That should not be difficult because we all owe so much to so many. Paul asked, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (I Corinthians 4:7) The strong will be quick to thank others.
Seven. Only the strong can bear up under suffering. No one enjoys suffering. But among other things, the trying of your faith produces Christlike character and all kinds of benefits. But we must endure.
Eight. Only the strong can rejoice when being persecuted. Blessed are you when you are persecuted for My Name’s sake and the Gospel, said our Lord, adding, “Rejoice and be exceeding glad. For your reward in Heaven is great; this is the same way they persecuted the prophets before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). I love this. Not many people can pull it off. And they’re all strong.
Nine. Only the strong can sing when hurting. We see that happening so beautifully in Acts 16 where Paul and Silas are arrested illegally, beaten harshly, then jailed without due process. Verse 25 says “About midnight, Paul and Silas began praying and singing hymns to God. And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Don’t miss the last line: they’re always listening. The jailer must have been eavesdropping also, because of what he did just after God sent a jail-sized earthquake to that building.
Ten. Only the strong can serve the people who have been making his/her life miserable. Pastors often find it part of their calling to minister to a family that has been his biggest critic. They’re in an emergency and he is their minister. There is no debate, he is the Lord’s servant, the pastor of the flock and so he goes. He does not particularly enjoy himself, but hey, the family is in crisis and God can use his touch. Who knows, maybe the Lord will use this to bring everyone together again.