“TENSILE STRENGTH”                                         By Pastor YAU

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:7-11                                        October 1, 2006.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   The engineers’ miscalculation: When a new highway loop was being completed in West Michigan, a real danger was discovered. The bridges had been designed to bear their own weight---but not the traffic they were intended to carry. Before the highway could be opened, several bridges had to be re-engineered and rebuilt. Engineers have to be especially careful with the tensile strength of the material in their construction design for structures required to bear large amounts of stress due to weight. Tensile strength is the maximum amount of stretching a material can withstand before it breaks. If the engineers miscalculate, the structure may collapse under the pressure of weight.

2)   The Master’s calculation:  When we are under the weights of stress and hardship, we may wonder if God who engineered all of us has miscalculated our “individual tensile strength.” Sometimes we feel we are going to break under the weight of trials but our Designer knows exactly what we can handle by His grace. He knows our limits and will never permit more weights to come on us than we can bear. As the Bible teacher Ron Hutchcraft said, “God may send us loads but He will never send us an overload.” Reinforced by the steel of God’s power, our tensile strength will never fail.

 

TENSILE STRENGTH IN REAL LIFE:

1)   Life is full of weights: In the parable of the wise builder at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:24-27, most of us will focus on the strength of resistance of the house built on the rock. But when Jesus said “The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against the house,” He was telling us that life is full of the weights of rain, water and winds. No life is spared of the weights of stress and pressure. From the day you go to school to your going to college, from the day you start dating to marriage and family, from the day you start your first job to your recent promotion, life is a non-stop process of stress and pressure. The only day your life has no pressure is when your life is expired.

2)   It keeps you from breaking: Since no one is exempted from the pressure or stress of life, everyone needs to have certain amount of tensile strength to go on life without breaking. The saying: “When the going gets tough, the though gets it going” are words of wisdom and that “tough” is your “tensile strength.” Since there will be tough days and life needs to continue without breaking, we need to have sufficient tensile strength to keep life going. In many cases, the difference between success and failure is if you have enough tensile strength to keep you going instead of breaking.

3)   It is something you may grow: Unlike tensile strength in building materials like rocks, bricks and steel which was set and never changed, human tensile strength is like that in trees that grow from time to time. The more trees learn to resist the pressure of winds its roots grow deeper and stronger to withstand stronger winds next time around. There are three ways we may grow our tensile strength: from inside, outside and above. We grow tensile strength on the inside that is our determination. We grow tensile strength from outside that is from life experiences. We also grow tensile strength from above that is from our daily walk with God.

4)   It is in proportion of your faith: Tensile strength in Christians is not something stagnant. It fluctuates from time to time in proportion to your faith in the Lord. We gain strength from Him when our faith is strong and we may lose power when we focus on ourselves or the environment just as Peter began to sink when he focused on the roaring sea instead of the Lord. (Matt. 14:30) In the healing miracle Jesus performed on the boy who was possessed by the evil spirit, He said, “I can tell you, everything is possible for him who believes (or have faith).” The sure way to grow your tensile strength is to grow your faith in the Lord.

 

TENSILE STRENGTH DEMONSTRATED: (2 Corinth. 4:7-11)

1)      The treasure and the clay jars: (v.7a) This is how Paul described the presence of the Lord in the lives of everyday Christians. The Lord is the treasure, the precious gems, and Christians are clay jars, ordinary and fragile vessels. This is the basic but foremost value system we need to employ when we are to measure our strength. We first need to realize that there is nothing important in us and we have zero strength to resist the pressures and stress of life. We also need to realize that if there is anything good in us, they all belong to the Lord and nothing belongs to us.  We are of little or no value if there is no treasure in the jars.

2)      God’s all-surpassing power: (v.7b) The surpassing power of God is all we need in handling pressure and stress. When Paul used the compound word “all-surpassing,” he meant to place the power of God on top of all pressures and stress. There is nothing greater or heavier in weight or size or volume or anything that the power of God cannot handle. After many years of tested experience, Paul testified that “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) The tensile strength we need to handle life and all its pressures and stress is that all-surpassing power of God.

3)      Hard pressed but not crushed: (v.8) In fact Paul said, “We are hard pressed on every side,” not just on one or two sides but all sides anyone can imagine. Paul was hard pressed from inside, outside, top side and underside, all sides. This is how Paul described the severity and variety of pressures he was pressed on. But even with all these seemingly insurmountable pressures from all sides, he was not crushed, not broken, not torn to pieces. The point here is that there is NOT one thing, anything, NOT one kind of pressure, any pressure, that may crack the protection of the Lord who surrounds His people with His all-surpassing power.

4)      Struck down but not destroyed: (v.9) “Destroyed” means “dead.” Struck down? Yes. Dead and done? No. This was the experience of Paul and that of millions and millions of Christians in all walks and circumstances. There will be times we may feel exhausted, hopeless, tired and almost like dead, but we are not dead, not done yet. The power of God inside us won’t let us go, won’t give up, won’t abandon us but keeps us alive and kicking and we will get up and keep going again. That was how Paul persisted in his fight against the pressure of life and arrived at the finish line when he said, “I have run the race, fought the good fight and kept the faith.” (2 Tim. 4:7) An unfinished job is never a good job just as an unfinished race is never a good race.

 

HANDLE TENSILE STRENGTH WITH CARE:

1)   It is a gift of God:  When God created human beings, He endowed us with some special qualities we need all the days of our life and tensile strength is one of the more important ones. All aspects of a man including his ability to survive, to feel, to think and to handle everything life may encounter were installed in him by God at the time of creation. The ability to sustain pressure and survive stress we call tensile strength today is a gift God installed in every person. He has the foreknowledge of our life and what it takes to live productively so He gives each one of us a portion of tensile strength according to His design. If you are given an extra portion and are able to handle more pressure, be thankful but never brag.

2)   It always come the right size: Some times we may feel that pressure is too high and we are at the brink of breaking but that is not true. God knows what we may face and what it takes to handle our situation. He will never send us “overloads” we can’t handle. God will not allow any pressure or temptation comes to us more than we are equipped to handle. He will always provide a way out so we can stand up once again. (1 Corinth. 10:13) Do not worry about “just in case” tomorrow. Everyday is “today” in God’s eyes. God has promised the people of Israel in the ancient time and to us today that “The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.” (Deut. 33:25)

3)   It needs constant exercise:  Just as we need constant exercise to keep tone up our muscles, we also need to use the tensile strength regularly to keep it in good shape so it won’t break next time we face pressure and stress. God will send us the right amount of stress and pressure each day to keep us using that tensile strength so it won’t get too relax and lose its potential usefulness. Do not complain the little irritants you face each day. They are God’s agents to keep you in top shape. Through process like this, your tensile strength will grow bit by bit to full measure as God intents it to be.

4)   God is greater than tensile strength:  Twenty-five times in the book of Psalms, King David repeated his trust in the strength of the Lord more than his own even though he was so strong that he had killed lions and bears with his bare hands. (1 Samuel 17:34-36) Many times he recognized God as his shelter, stronghold and protection in time of storm. It is good to have great tensile strength under heavy weights, but it is much better to have God and His strength to sustain and support us in any situation we may face. In Psalm 27:1, David said, “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Here is the formula: You + God = everything.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Thank God for the gift:  Just imagine how life will be like if God doesn’t give us tensile strength to handle all the pressures and stress. Don’t leave home without bringing along this gift when you go to school, to work and everywhere else. He is the Master Designer who never misses anything in His calculation when He created each one of us.

2)   Thank God for the training: We all want to be stronger and more capable in handling stress and pressure. That’s why God sends His agents like irritants and hardships from time to time to tone up our defense system so we will be able to face off with storms someday. Don’t murmur in the training. It is always for your own good.

3)   Team up with the best: Don’t settle for the second best. Go for the best you can and that is God. He is always invincible in any and all circumstances. Walk close with Him, listen to His direction and obey His orders. You won’t be sorry anytime or anywhere.