“16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:16-17).
Some of us have been faithfully praying for our loved ones and also of the members of the church whom we know are going through difficulties in their lives. We are concerned for them. We wanted the best for them. That was the same spirit which the apostle Paul demonstrated to others whom he ministered unto. For example, the church of Ephesus was a congregation which was very dear to the apostle. Paul enjoyed a close fellowship with the Ephesians. He constantly prayed for them. What exactly was the apostle’s prayer for them? He prayed: “16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:16-17).
Paul was not praying that they would be given the physical strength to endure trials and tribulations. Of a truth, many times, we do need the Lord to give us the physical strength to go through hardship and trials in life. Going through difficult moments in life is indeed taxing to our body and mind. However, the more needful thing, as highlighted by the apostle, is to pray for the strengthening of the inner man in us. Many times, in our prayer for others, we focused only on the physical being and forgot about the inner man, the spiritual being.
Human beings are different from other creations of God. Plants have a body that can grow. They do not have a mind to think. Animals have a body and have a mind but they live by their instincts. For example, hamsters will eat their own offspring when there is a lack space for all of them to live in. Piranhas will eat up the weaker ones among themselves and only the fittest survive. Animals have no moral and reasonable soul within them.
Human beings are different because we have an inner being, and our inner being is created in the image of God – in righteousness, knowledge and holiness (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). Our inner being distinguishes us from other creations of God. Many times, we often neglect our inner being and concentrate on the external well-being of our physical body. In this prayer by the apostle Paul, we are reminded again on how important it is to pray that others would be strengthened not only in their physical being, but also that they might be strengthened with might by God’s Spirit in the inner man.
The apostle himself was learnt this lesson from God. At one time in his life, Paul testified that he was given “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (2Cor. 12:7). We do not know exactly what this thorn in the flesh was, but it must have bothered the apostle tremendously for he was led to pray three times to the Lord to remove away this physical infirmity from him. After pleading thrice, what this man of great faith got was not the removal of this thorn in the flesh. Instead, the Lord replied Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor. 12:9).
The Lord did not restore him physically. Instead, the Lord strengthened him in inner man with His grace so that Paul might be able to continue on in spite of the infirmity. And because of that, Paul can testify: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).
The physical body is merely temporal. We can only grow physically up to a certain age, where our body will no longer grow, and the slow process of decay will take over. But such a fact does not apply on the inner man! Our inner man can continue to grow in faith until the day when we meet Christ face to face. In fact, the older we all, the more our inner man should grow in grace and in the faith. The growth of the inner man is never limited to the physical body.
The apostle prayed: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:17). We can only have Christ in our heart by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). Every man should not only confess Christ but possess Christ in his heart. Some may have sincerely asked Christ to be their Saviour. However, they also need to make Christ their Lord too. Many people only want Christ to save them from their sins, but they would not want Christ to be Lord of their lives. They would only want Christ to be their Saviour but not their Master. To them, Christ must come when they call; and He must leave after their needs are fulfilled. The apostle Paul prayed that Christ must DWELL in our hearts. Christ must not be merely a guest to the heart, to come when needed and to disappear when not wanted. Christ must dwell within us and be a resident in our heart. My friends, is there a permanent place within your heart for Christ? If not, why?
Perhaps, one of the reasons is that you may not have fully experienced the love of God for you; you may not have fully comprehended the magnitude of the love of Christ. Jesus has loved us with an everlasting love. The Son of God left heaven’s glory and to take on the form of a lowly man out of His great love for us. His love for us led Him to the Calvary Cross to lay down His life for His beloved: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). One stanza of the well-loved hymn, The Love of God, goes: “Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry, Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.” God’s love for us extends far beyond the widest ocean and tapestry of the open sky. Such is the wonder and matchlessness of the love of God!
My dear friends, our life on earth is a pilgrimage and will never be easy. Our physical body is fragile and can be easily broken by the storms in life. What we need to do is to root and ground ourselves deeply, not in the wisdom of this world, but in our Lord Jesus Christ. At times, where you felt lonely, remember that you are not alone. Christ is with you. Look to the cross and you will see His love. Root and anchor yourself in the love of Christ and you will no longer be easily shaken in the midst of the storm. You will remain steadfast in faith because you know that no one can ever take away the love which Christ has for you: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). Be strengthened in the inner man by rooting yourself in the love of Christ.