What does the Bible say about strength?
Question: "What does the Bible say about strength?"
Answer: The word strength and its derivatives are mentioned over 360 times in the Bible, applying to both natural and supernatural strength. The Greek word katei means “power, strength, might.” In the Bible, strength is often linked to God’s power. Believers are to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). The unlimited power of Christ is the source of strength for those who belong to Him.
According to the Bible, what strength we have is not our own. It ultimately comes from God. “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength . . . but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23–24).
No matter how strong we think we are, “the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Left to our own devices, we will fall into temptation and fail in any worthy endeavor. The weakness inherent in human nature is why the Bible commends us to the strength of the Lord. Christ’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). As we learn to rely on God’s strength instead of our own, we gain new heights: “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19).
The Lord gives His children strength to minister to others (1 Timothy 1:12; 1 Peter 4:11), strength to face persecution (2 Timothy 1:8), and strength to overcome death (1 Corinthians 15:57).
God’s strength in the Bible is readily seen in many of His works. He created the world and all that is in it with the power of His word. He parted the Red Sea, caused the sun to stand still, raised the dead, and performed many other great and glorious deeds. “Praise him for his acts of power” (Psalm 150:2). The one “who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4), because the God of all power needs no rest.
The Bible places an emphasis on God’s strength in our salvation. Man can in no way save himself. Only God can save. Paul makes this abundantly clear: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). These two verses are the most forceful summary of the dynamics of salvation found anywhere in the Bible. They help us to understand the contrast between man’s total helplessness and God’s insuperable strength. “God alone . . . has the power to save or to destroy” (James 4:12, NLT).
The Bible illustrates God’s strength to save in the story of Gideon. The Israelites were facing a Midianite army described as “thick as locusts” with “camels as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore” (Judges 7:12). Gideon mustered his troops, and they numbered 32,000. God said that was too many, and Gideon reduced them to 10,000 (Judges 7:2–3). Still too many, God said, and He reduced Gideon’s forces to a mere 300 men (verses 7–8). God had stated His purpose in paring the Israelite army down to almost nothing in verse 2: “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’” In the end, the Midianites are routed, God is glorified, and Israel is saved. The salvation came not through human strength but solely through the strength of the Lord working through men of faith.
Our strength is found in Christ—in our having a vibrant, dynamic relationship with Him. It is Christ who empowers us to do whatever is necessary to accomplish God’s will: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). There is no other source that gives man the strength to overcome the world with its trials and temptations.
The Bible says that our strength is, paradoxically, related to surrender: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We align ourselves with the strength of God through our total submission to Him; then we are able to withstand the wiles of the evil one. “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10–11).
Those who rely on God’s strength from day to day will find in Him a never-ending spring of energy: “Blessed are those whose strength is in you. . . . They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion” (Psalm 84:5, 7). As God’s children, we are strengthened by His grace (Hebrews 13:9), by our time spent in prayer (Luke 18:1), and by the promise that God will reward our efforts (Galatians 6:9). Many around us may grow weary and faint, but “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Recommended Resource: Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life, by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker
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