If vulnerability means openness to the point of being wounded, then…
When is vulnerability wrong?
Hezekiah was naively open before envoys from Babylon. They had sent him a gift after his recovery from illness and were curious concerning his sign from heaven. God used it as a test to see how he would respond (2 Chron.32:31), and he didn’t fare well. He may have grown proud of his miraculous cure. Isaiah prophesied that all his treasure would one day be carried off to Babylon. Hezekiah is an example of a leader who was foolishly vulnerable.
Vulnerability does not mean…
.Letting others run over me (but it may)
.Always talking about my weaknesses (which puts too much focus on me)
.Inappropriate sharing of personal failure, such as sexual sins in a mixed crowd
.Self-deprecation (as if to say, “Look at how bad I’ve been,” which some might even find inappropriate joy in doing)
.Being vulnerable with the wrong people, wrong time, wrong reason, like Hezekiah was.
Nor are we to test the Lord in a demonstration of foolish vulnerability, as if to say, “He will protect me.” Satan tempted Jesus to jump from the temple, quoting Scripture that “He will command his angels concerning you….” God promises to help the humble, not the foolish.
And further, we are to be both “wise as snakes and as innocent as doves.” To be only innocent leaves us open to attack. Jesus was sending out His disciples “like sheep among wolves.” He urged them: “Be on your guard against men.” There’s a difference between being innocent and naïve. We must rely on the Spirit to know how to relate wisely and humbly with others. We can’t follow a principle, only the Spirit of truth.
Vulnerability, like humility, looks different in different settings. To be without guile is good, but to be foolishly simple and lacking in appropriate worldly wisdom leaves us open to attack. Sheep don’t stand a chance against wolves, but snakes do. As sheep, they were to give of themselves freely in spite of opposition (Matt.10:17-31). When Peter and John were brought before the authorities, they were both submissive and courageous. They said, in effect, “You do what you have to do, because we’re going to do what we have to do.” They were bold, but not brash.
Am I willing to be weak, to be wrong, to be second, to go the low road, or do I need to look strong, be right, be first, take the high road—and miss out on grace? Must I defend myself or can I go low? Must I argue or can I give in even if it looks like I lost the argument?
Vulnerability releases grace. Why?
It says that I am not alone in my struggles.
It says that God uses our failures.
It says that we are on the way, not there. The process is important, not just the goal.
It says that I can share my weaknesses when appropriate and don’t have to pretend.
It makes us open to the grace of God, because His power works with our weakness.
Would you rather win an argument or build a marriage?
Would you rather win a fight or strengthen a friendship?
Would you rather look good or walk humbly?
Would you rather impress people or honor God?
May God give you wisdom to know when and how to walk in vulnerability.