Even Your Weakness is Anointed
Even Your Weakness is Anointed
Do you ever feel too weak or inadequate to be useful to God?
A teenager from Cumbria in Northern England felt God calling him. Patrick was poorly educated, ineloquent and faced significant opposition throughout his ministry from those who felt that he wasn’t up to the task. Even as an old man he still admitted, ‘Today I still blush and fear more than anything to have my lack of learning brought out into the open.’
Yet despite all his disadvantages Patrick remained convinced that God had called and anointed him as an evangelist. He wrote, ‘We are a letter of Christ for salvation even to the back of beyond – and what does it matter if it is not a learned letter? For it is still to be found valid and plain for all to read, written in your very hearts, not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God!’
Today his more eloquent contemporaries have long been forgotten, but the impact of St Patrick’s ministry and mission to Ireland 1500 years ago is still recognised around the world. Even his weakness was anointed.
As David takes up the throne of Israel he says, ‘… though I am the anointed king, I am weak’ (2 Samuel 3:39). The moment you put your faith in Jesus, God anoints you with the Holy Spirit. However weak and inadequate you may feel, God can use you, like David, in extraordinary ways. Even your weakness is anointed.
Anointed in times of troublePsalm 69:13-28
Are you going through a time of trouble? David was in a time of deep trouble in his life. He felt like he was in a ‘swamp’, a ‘Black Hole’, a ‘deathtrap’. He says, ‘I’m… flat on my face, reduced to a nothing’ (vv.15–20, MSG).
David, the anointed leader of Israel (2 Samuel 5:3), was a person of prayer. Many of the psalms are attributed to him. In this psalm we see an example of his honest, raw and intimate prayers.
When you are in trouble or in a position of great weakness:
- Know God’s great love for you
David prays, ‘In your great love, O God, answer me’ (Psalm 69:13). ‘Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me’ (v.16).
- Cry out to God in your heart
Be honest with God. Tell him what you are really feeling: ‘Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink’ (v.14). ‘Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble’ (v.17).
Lord, thank you that I can pray to you in times of trouble. Lord, today I cry to you for help.
Anointed by the Holy SpiritActs 1:1-22
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you. Of the four Gospel writers, Luke is the only one who continues to tell the story of the next generation. The story of Jesus continued in ‘the believers’ (v.15) and now it continues in you.
The book of Acts is the History of the Church Volume I. History matters to Luke. He uses such words as ‘eye-witnesses’, ‘carefully investigated’, ‘an orderly account’ (Luke 1:2–3) and here he talks about ‘many convincing proofs’ (Acts 1:3). He stresses that Jesus did not just appear as a fleeting impression like a ghost: ‘After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days... as they met and ate meals together’ (vv.2–4, MSG).
This is the second volume in Luke’s life of Jesus. He refers to his earlier Gospel as being about ‘all that Jesus began to do and to teach’ (v.1). Now he tells the story of what Jesus continued to do through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as the gift promised by the Father (v.4). Now he promises that in a few days the disciples will be baptised with the Holy Spirit and receive power to be his witnesses to the city (‘Jerusalem’), the nation (‘all Judea and Samaria’) and the world (‘to the ends of the earth’) (v.8).
Through the rest of the passage we see a series of examples of people who have been filled by the Holy Spirit and been his messengers across the world. The wonderful news is that you are included in the list!
The Holy Spirit speaks through people, including David (v.16). Peter gives examples of how the Holy Spirit spoke through David in the psalms – even predicting the replacement of Judas the betrayer (vv.15–20).
Supremely, the Holy Spirit anointed Jesus. Luke tells us that Jesus gave ‘instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen’ (v.2).
In particular, ‘On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit”’ (vv.4–5).
Though in many ways they were weak, the apostles would be anointed by the Holy Spirit for the task that lay ahead. The word ‘apostle’ is used in several different ways in the New Testament. In the wider sense of a person who is sent by God, it clearly applies to many people in the past and also today (see 1 Corinthians 12:28–29). In a narrower sense, there are people who have what might be described as an ‘apostolic’ leadership gift (Mark 3:14).
However, here it is used in the narrowest sense of the word. They were a special group of people who were uniquely qualified by Jesus. The Holy Spirit spoke through them in a unique way. These were the apostles whom Jesus had chosen and to whom he gave special instructions through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2).
Judas had originally been part of this group. Now they were looking for a replacement. Peter lays down the qualifications. They had to have been with Jesus throughout his ministry, witnessed his resurrection and to have received the necessary training (vv.21–22).
Jesus said, ‘In a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (vv.5,8).
On the day of Pentecost this was fulfilled and the apostle Peter made it clear that the promise was for ‘all whom the Lord our God will call’ (2:39). This includes you!
The Holy Spirit comes to anoint and empower you – to help and guide you in every aspect of your life – not just the ‘spiritual’ parts. Everything you have belongs to God and he wants to be involved in all of your life. Through the Holy Spirit living within you God wants you to become like Jesus in all your thoughts, attitudes, words and actions. You are Jesus to the world.
Lord, thank you that your Holy Spirit now lives in me. Thank you that, though I am weak, I am anointed to be your witness. Help me to be the mouthpiece of your Holy Spirit.
Anointed for leadership2 Samuel 3:22-5:5
In order to be leaders, we do not need to be perfect. David said, ‘… though I am the anointed king, I am weak’ (3:39). The history of David’s life in the Bible is a great testimony to both the anointing and weakness of David. He knew that he was far from perfect, and yet he also knew that God could still use him. He doesn’t dwell on his weakness, but rather turns the situation over to God (v.39). In spite of his weaknesses, God used him in extraordinary ways.
This passage also reminds us that God used David throughout his life. We have already seen many examples of how God had used David as a leader for many years before he became king. Yet when he became king, David was still relatively young. Thereafter he continued to be used by God throughout a long and (mostly) successful reign: ‘David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty years’ (5:4).
The Lord said about David, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel, and you shall become their ruler’ (v.2). Then, ‘all the elders… anointed David king over Israel’ (v.3). David became a leader full of integrity. He ‘shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skilful hands he led them’ (Psalm 78:72). David was the type of leader we desperately need today, in the church and in society – men and women of character and capabilities; integrity of heart and skilful hands.
Thank you, Lord, that the same Holy Spirit who lived in David, Jesus and in the apostles, now anoints and lives in me. Thank you that even my weakness is anointed.
2 Samuel 3:30
‘Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.’
Wanting revenge is a powerful emotion. I can understand Joab wanting to avenge his brother’s death. It is not easy to forgive a person who has hurt someone you love. Without knowing that Jesus died for me, I am not sure I could even begin. I still have to go on forgiving one of our children’s teachers who was vindictive – don’t get me started!
Verse of the Day
‘… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…’ (Acts 1:8)
John Skinner, The Confession of Saint Patrick: The Classic Text in New Translation (Penguin Random House, 1998), p.11.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.