Don’t trust a man who walks without a limp
Strength or cleverness are potential hindrances to the spiritual life. God wants all our trust to be in Him
The patriarch Jacob, son of Abraham and Isaac – the man whom God re-named Israel – was a manipulator who went out of his way to take care of his own interests. Although Jacob knew God, and was blessed by God, he was always scheming to his own ends, until God dealt with him. When Jacob was in great danger, the Bible records that he spent a night wrestling with God, and God wrenched his hip so that ever after he walked with a limp [Genesis 32:22-32].
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
The Bible says that God does not delight in man’s strength or cleverness, but in those who fear Him and put their hope in His unfailing love [Psalm 147:10-11].
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man;
the LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.
God called the Babylonians “guilty men, whose own strength is their god” and people who promoted “their own honour” [Habakkuk 1:6-11]. They succeeded for a while but later were destroyed.
I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own.
They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.
Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour;
they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand.
They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them.
Then they sweep past like the wind and go on – guilty men, whose own strength is their god.”
For a person, or a group, or a nation like Israel, to be used for the high spiritual purposes of God, they must first be “broken”. They must be made to “walk with a limp”, so to speak.
This was true of all the heroes of faith in the Bible. For example, Moses had to spend 40 years in the wilderness. King David spent years in the desert running from his enemies. And the apostle Peter, who said that he would lay down his life for Jesus (John 13:36-38 ), ended up being humbled.
Simon Peter asked Him, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”
Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
Learning to not trust in self, and to be dependent on God, is an important aspect of Christian “growth”.
This principle can be observed on a sweeping scale as we note what God is doing as He restores the nation of Israel – in fulfillment of prophecy and of His promises.
Every year Israel gets stronger, economically and militarily, but every year God allows her enemies to get stronger still. At the same time, more and more of Israel’s friends are abandoning her. God will let Israel get to a place where she is in such mortal danger, and where there will be nowhere else to turn but to Him, and then, as we read in the closing chapters of Zechariah, the nation will recognise their Messiah, Jesus, and will be saved.
It is pointless trying to escape. God is relentless. It is best to yield.
I dare say that this same principle is at work in you and me. God is dealing with His people. Judgment begins in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17 ).
1 Peter 4:17
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?×
It is pointless trying to escape. God is relentless. It is best to yield. It is best not to rely on intellect or connections or past successes, but to let God unfold His plans in His own way.
There are many self-proclaimed spiritual leaders. Some have public profiles. God bless them. May their faith never fail. But it is a good idea to quietly watch whether they strut, figuratively speaking, or whether they walk with a spiritual limp.
It’s not their following or quick words or material displays of success that should impress. It’s their personal impotence, and leaning on the supernatural power of Christ, that determines whether they will bear fruit that will last.