Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength.
Gandalf’s recognition of his weakness makes him strong. It’s what differentiates him from Saruman. Saruman falls prey to the darkness and to the allure of power that the darkness supposedly has. Gandalf does not. Gandalf understands that to take the Ring or any other devices of Sauron would compromise his character and his nature. He would not become stronger; he would be depleted. He would become enslaved to a thing. He no longer would be free to make his own choices. He no longer would be Gandalf.
Gandalf’s wizardry, then, as impressive as it may be, is not what makes him who he is. He is a wizard, but he’s much more than that. He’s a person who recognizes his limits. He’s a person who understands that strength is found in admitting his weakness and that one sometimes has to refuse a thing, has to flee from it, in order to remain strong.
Photo: Chad Thorson (CC 2.0)