Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Sweetness-Strength Matrix

There are four possible combinations of Sweetness/ Hardness and Strength/ Weakness

Sweetness and strength
Sweetness and weakness

Hardness and strength
Hardness and weakness

Some self-identified Christians are strong but lack sweetness - and no matter how strict their observance, how devout their lives, how obedient they are to legitimate authority - their hardness leads them to serve themselves and not God. (These are the Pharisees.)

Some self-identified Christians are sweet but lack strength - and no matter how lovingly they speak, their weakness leads them to serve the world and not God. (These are the Liberals.)

Some self-identified Christians are hard and weak - these are petty and spiteful individuals; but so unpopular that they seldom do harm to anybody but themselves. Since they lack admired qualities - in their own eyes as well as the world's - they are only one step of insight and acknowledgement away from humility and repentance.

The biggest danger is to have one positive quality without the other - Love or Courage but not both; and to convince oneself, and others, that this is superior: this is what is most needed here and now; and for the sweet-weak to despise strength (the average modern Christian or idealist secular Leftist); or the hard-strong to despise sweetness (the 'strict' Christian legalists and inquisitors or Nietzschian secular Right).


There are four possible combinations - but only sweetness and strength together will suffice. We should ask ourselves - do we have both? Does our church have both? And if we lack one, we should seek the other.


Note: The key is not really to possess sweetness and strength - because to a considerable extent, these depend on how we are made - but to value sweetness and strength. No matter how we are made, we can value sweetness and strength; and we can repent hardness and weakness.

5 comments:

  1. Note: The key is not really to possess sweetness and strength - because to a considerable extent, these depend on how we are made - but to value sweetness and strength.

    Brilliant insight; similar to the observation that advocating evil is worse than doing evil. It's easy to get discouraged as a Christian when one believes that one is constantly failing to be "good enough", but it should be enormously helpful to realize that there are other ways to score a victory.

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  2. @Bruce,
    this is a very good post. It is one of those very simple but revealing ways of looking at things.

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  3. @Tucker - Thank you. Yes, well after posting it I realized that - of course - I lack both sweetness and strength; although perhaps (because of my irritability) it is the lack of sweetness which is the main problem.

    I have so far found this impossible to eliminate- and can only notice, repent and apologize.

    I would much rather be sweeter, but repentance of hardness is (thanks to Jesus Christ, in both sense of 'thanks') *enough*.

    @Adam- Thank you.

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  4. “Sweet” as the opposite of “sour” or “bitter” is probably right on but somehow it sounds effeminate. Is there a better term for how men should be? “Quiet” and “gentle” are precious traits for women in the eyes of the Lord. What’s the male equivalent?

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  5. @BB - Sweet is le mot juste - I am reclaiming it!

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