The Power of Strength
Nancy B. Detweiler
The 2nd quality required for us to attain higher consciousness is STRENGTH. "Strength is the ability to hold fast, endure, stand firm, and stay in integrity." The Old Testament story of Samson (Judges 13:24 - 16:31) is an example of physical force. In contrast Jesus shows us the Way of Strength (Matthew 4:1-11). Following his baptism, Jesus underwent his 40 days fast in the wilderness, in preparation for his ministry. At the end of the 40 days and nights ... when Jesus was hungry and in his most vulnerable condition ... the tempter confronted Jesus with temptations regarding how to begin his ministry. How could he so powerfully gain the attention of the people that they would listen to him?
Note that the temptations come after a voice from heaven spoke, "This is my beloved Son with whom I am pleased" ... after the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus ... after the 40 days fast. We would think by now that Jesus would be immune to temptations. Instead, temptations come when we are most susceptible to them ... when we are hungry and eager to be filled.
Once we embark on the spiritual path and are no longer tempted to physically harm or steal from another person, the temptations become increasingly subtle. Note that Jesus is debating within himself how to begin his ministry. First, he is tempted to command the stones--so plentiful in his country--to become bread, so he can feed the hungry. What could be wrong with feeding the hungry? Then, he remembers: "It is written that it is not by bread alone that man can live, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God." (Deut. 8:3b)
Next Jesus is tempted to jump from the pinnacle of the temple and allow the angels to catch him. Wow, that would really gain the attention of the people! Surely they would listen to the teachings of one caught in the arms of the angels! Then, Jesus recalls: "Again, it is written that you shall not tempt the Lord your God."
Finally, Jesus is tempted to become the type of Messiah that his people were expecting ... one who would become their earthly king and win their freedom from the Roman Empire. What could possibly be wrong with that? Jesus knew that to become an earthly king would be to turn his attention away from proclaiming the Kingdom of God ... he knew his ministry was to do the works "he sees the Father doing" (John 5:19) and to speak not his words but the words his Father commanded him to speak (John 12:49).
Jesus displayed true inner strength--as an example for us to follow--when he reminded himself: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve." At the point that Jesus stood firm in his inner strength, the angels "drew near and ministered to him."
In order for us to build our inner strength and our capacity to endure temptations---some of which are extremely subtle---and stand firm in our integrity, we must know the principles on which we choose to stand. We must know ourselves---our weak, vulnerable spots. Without self-knowledge, we respond to all of life on an unconscious basis. We react not knowing what vulnerability ... what pain ... what rejection ... what misguided thought patterns form the basis for a particular reaction. Attempting to live with a lack of self knowledge is like building our lives on quick sand---we never know when we are going to sink.
Two requirements are prerequisites for attaining inner strength. First, "Know Thyself." Second, choose and follow the examples of your Wayshower. Know the principles upon which you base your life. Then, and only then, will you possess the inner strength to stand firm in your integrity.
I highly recommend the book TWELVE POWERS IN YOU by Williamson, Williamson, & Knapp. In this book, a medical doctor, a minister, and a psychologist combine to give you a holistic approach to developing the 12 powers within you.