In his work on how the Christian can safely be vulnerable through an exposition of the Beatitudes, Brad Hambrick discusses the importance of being one of those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. This is related to vulnerability in that it involves admitting our dependence. This entails understanding that we do not have a righteousness of our own, and that God in Christ is our only source of it, both for justification and sanctification. It is important for the Christian to be frank with himself and others concerning his dependence on God. “Biblically, life is not about a high self-esteem. Life is about confident reliance on God’s sufficiency and surrendering our inadequacies to his grace.”
Brad Hambrick notes the paradox of how admitting our lack of personal and legal righteousness before God entails reception of it. Being too prideful or “insecure” to acknowledge this deficiency, he notes, entails not having it, whereas admitting our deficiency involves it being granted to us. It is important, once again, that we are frank to both others and ourselves that we, in and of ourselves, are not righteous. We must hunger and thirst for that righteousness which is outside of ourselves.
Hambrick warns against being too exhibitionistic in being open about our own faults. This can simply make others uncomfortable. However, it is important for us to be open about the fact that we do not have it all together, and that we are in continual need of God’s provision of grace in order to live out the gospel in our personal lives.
Next, Hambrick discusses the importance of being merciful. Indeed, Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who are merciful. Being truly vulnerable involves accepting when we are on the short end of the stick, as he puts it. It is important to be willing to lose and to resist retaliation when it feels natural. “That is the gritty side of mercy that we all naturally resist. That is the side of mercy that makes many who try to practice it doormats. Actual mercy is not being a doormat, but it is in that direction.” He thus defines mercy as “the willingness to accept personal loss for the good of another for a worthwhile cause.” Indeed, Hambrick notes that failure to keep in consideration of the worthwhile cause hinders our ability to be and to remain merciful.
This entails being vulnerable because we instinctively want to lash out and insist on getting the good which we think we deserve when the scales are unjust. This does not mean never insisting on what is just or fair, but it is a fact that we will sometimes get the short end of the stick, and we must be willing to accept this, when reversing it is impossible, without retaliating or holding a grudge. In other words, being vulnerable involves being merciful, even when we want to retaliate against those who have wronged us. Indeed, God tells us that everything will be repaid in the end, both what is just and unjust, and sometimes we must therefore cast the injustices we may have faced to the feet of God and trust the righteous judge to do what is right.
Next, Hambrick discusses the relationship of purity of heart to vulnerability. Jesus pronounces a blessing on being pure in heart. Those who are pure in heart are stalwart in their convictions. This entails refusing to live as a hypocrite and refusing to live for personal gain, self-protection or revenge. Purity of heart entails standing up for what is right even when it makes you vulnerable or puts you in the way of scorn or even personal danger. Many of us shrink back in being pure in heart because we are afraid of the negative consequences that might result from it when everyone else is doing what is wrong.