Wednesday, July 1, 2015

1 Corinthians 15:41-44 -- On Weakness Leading to Perfection

"There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
1 Corinthians 15:41-44

These verses are interesting I think in the way they talk about the resurrection.  When we die, we die (to at least some extent) corrupt, dishonorable, weak, natural... but when we rise, we rise with none of those things.  Which is interesting in terms of life.  Why does God ask us to be perfect when he knows that we can't be?  That our perfection comes in the resurrection, not now?  I think part of the answer at least is in Romans 12:9.  We are "made perfect in weakness."  The imperfection that God asks us to work with in this life helps us to learn, and value, perfection.  We see the corruption all around us, and it teaches us to value people and things that are incorruptible.  We've all seen, and probably experienced, the interesting phenomenon where the harder something is, and the more we struggle to learn something and to master it, the more value we place on it when we've accomplished it.  Ether 12:27 tells us that God gives us weakness.  And I think this is part of why... because not being good at something teaches us a lot more than being good at everything.  It also teaches us compassion and empathy for other people who struggle (which, by the way, is everyone).
Sometimes we confuse sin and weakness.  (There is a good recent talk on the subject here.)  I think that we confuse them because they sometimes go hand in hand.  We may inherit a genetic weakness to alcoholism, and if we make that choice to start drinking, we find it almost impossible to stop.  Is that weakness or sin?  Both are mixed in there.  Weakness isn't bad by itself, but it is given to us so that we can learn humility and how to overcome, not so that we can give ourselves excuses for bad behavior.  If we choose to act on that weakness, and start embracing it and being proud of it or wallowing in it instead of working to overcome it, then we're losing the battle.  We all have things that we are bad at, or sins that we are drawn to, but those things shouldn't define us.  We are valuable people even if we are bad at math, grammar, social skills, or emotional stability... any weakness.  We are still good people even if we are tempted by dishonesty, pride, pornography, or adultery... any sin. We have those stumbling blocks in our lives so that we can learn to be stronger.  Where we go wrong is if we start defining ourselves by these things, and thinking that makes them okay.  I think that we can all agree that "I was born with a sexual attraction to animals" doesn't make acting on that attraction okay, although it may be harder for us to realize that the same goes with any attraction to sin, especially when we run into the ones that we are personally attracted to.  Even simple things like saying "I'm not good with people" or "I'm not good at math" sometimes give us an excuse to not try anymore, when in actuality we could be good at it... we just have to work harder for it.
Today, let's work to overcome our weaknesses and become stronger.  Let's walk away from sin, even if we are weak to it... especially if we are weak to it in fact.  Let's be humble and willing to learn from God.  Let's remember that we are valuable people, no matter our weaknesses.  Let's make sure our weaknesses and imperfections lead to strength and perfection rather than justification for sin.

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