One of the issues I find when counseling people is that many of us tend to think in unhealthy extremes. I am a bad wife and mom. I am a fully matured believer. I will never be happy again because of my divorce. I am always right. I am ugly. I deserve the best. Thoughts and attitudes like these do not leave much room for the reality that none of us is all good, nor are any of us all bad. We are in process, being changed by God and life, which means we are never quite the exact person we have formerly been, nor are we going to be in the future exactly who we are today. You and I have strengths and weaknesses, and we need to be familiar with both those categories in our lives. Knowing where you excel and where you are limited helps you to have a proactive strategy for your life. Since we have to live with both the good and bad about ourselves, it makes sense for us to be able to properly identify these areas so that we may steward them purposefully as we follow Christ. By the way, you should also know these areas because the enemy is strategizing right there in order to remove your effectiveness and plunder your joy.
Satan works on you by seeking to exploit your weaknesses and suffocate your strengths. He has a plan to accomplish this over the next twenty-four hours of your life. And also every day which follows.
God allows weakness into our lives in order to create an ongoing awareness in us of our absolute need for Him. Jesus wasn’t playing around when He said in John 15:5, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Because we are slow to believe that, God graciously leaves enough difficulty with us that it drives us to Him for aid. God’s plan for your weaknesses is to utilize it as a means to impart to you His very own presence and power (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). He actually builds & beautifies us via the breaking in us. Now Satan approaches this same weakness in you with an altogether different plan. He is not satisfied with you being weak in an area – he wants you defeated. He pounds the bruise until it bursts. He exploits that area of your life with repeated temptations and accusation so you will believe the weakness is permanent. He introduces into your mind hopelessness, attempts at self-reformation, rebellion, frustration and fatalism. There is no mercy with the enemy of our souls, and he has no issues with saving his most ferocious assault against you for your lowest moment of weakness and vulnerability. He delights in having you so consumed with all that is wrong, that you cannot regain stability in Him who is right. Satan reasons with you about how disgusted and weary God is with your inability to cease and desist from this weakened area in your life. Satan forces you to focus on your struggles on the inside and fears from the outside, while he powerfully hisses to you that, in summary, you are simply a bad person and that you will never get better. This is how the devil works on you in the area of your weakness.
Now let us also remember that, though He leaves us with some weaknesses, God has also invested in you some incredible strengths. He imparted some natural giftedness to you when He physically created you (Psalm 139:14). When He gave to you the second birth/salvation/spiritual life, He added to your natural giftedness a component of spiritual grace-gifts via the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:3; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11). God has also wired you with an individual temperament and personality which are purposeful gifts from Him to you. Remember today that you are an on-purpose expression of the Divine will. There was a desire in the infinite heart of God and He wrapped you up all around that reason and deposited both the purpose and person into the earth at a precisely defined time. Herein is your significance! Because you are purposed by God, there are some things in which you excel. Others have not been given the same strengths which God has imparted to you. He has allotted you exactly what you need to fulfill His plan for your life and your strengths are usually found within the things in which you feel most assured and confident. I know my own gifts, and when I humbly engage them with the right motives at the right time some rather incredible things happen. It is a wise and maturing believer who can look at his or her life and say with no hesitation, “I am effective here. I have been made good at this. Here is an area where I discern excellence in my life.” God would have you know these things about yourself and maximize your opportunities to invest your strengths in the lives of others. Knowing your strengths, employing them with discipline and delight, honing them over time and spending them for God’s fame produces the deepest satisfaction that a Christian can have while living below.
And the devil will fight you tooth and nail the whole time you seek to do so. Satan is working right now to suffocate your strengths so that you live in a sense of defeat, confusion and despair. Check back Friday for Part 2 as I will wrap it up with this last component of how the devil works on you.