How many times have you heard people say that your greatest strength can also become your greatest weakness? I've heard it said or taught countless numbers of times.
What does it mean, though, really?
I mean, how does being really, really wise at some point become a weakness? How does being incredibly merciful turn into something harmful? Where could one possibly go wrong from being unusually intelligent?
It's actually a confusing teaching.
Here's what I think people mean when they teach this catchy saying. First, it's not true that wisdom, in and of itself, can somehow become a negative or a weakness. God is all wise and there isn't a point in which His wisdom is going to become weakness. It's His wisdom, in part, that helps to make everything that He chooses to accomplish perfect. God's wisdom will never become a weakness.
You can say that same thing about having a strength like mercy. Mercy in and of itself is not weakness. It's amazing. God's mercy will never become a negative. It will never prove to make Him weak. Never. In fact, someone has to be very strong in order to relent from giving someone the full weight of the punishment they deserve.
So then how does it happen? How does a strength become a weakness?
Well, God's strengths never becomes weakness because He's God. Enough said. Our strengths, however, can become weakness because we're not God and we don't always know how to apply our strengths or tune down our strengths or quit using our strengths.
Here's what I mean. If we always use our strength in every context, then we're going to find that our strength will almost certainly reach a point of diminishing returns. At some point our strengths run out of strength. It all depends upon the context and the timing. Not every difficult or challenging situation in life is alleviated by the strength of your strengths.
Think about it this way. If, as a parent, you are strong in mercy and you are only and always merciful toward your child in every circumstance, then your strength will eventually become a weakness. If a child is only given mercy and never given the chance to understand justice, then your parenting will fall short. Your child needs mercy but they also need to know that their actions have real and sometimes very heavy consequences as well.
One more illustration. If someone who is wise, and quite fond of their wisdom, wrongly believes that their brand of wisdom is the only useful wisdom in the marketplace, then their overly confident outlook is going to eventually come back to haunt them. No human strength is perfectly strong. Our strengths have limits and holes and imperfections.
So, use your strengths and build on your strengths and be thankful for your strengths, but be careful that you don't falsely believe that your strengths are the answer to every solution.
God knows this and that's why He wants you to be fully pressing into His strength at all times. You need Him. You will always need Him. When you and I rely too heavily on our strengths, we'll eventually hurt ourselves.
You Are Loved!
(Part of the 'Into the Depths' series.)