Confidence with humility

Judges 6:36-38 “Then Gideon said to God, ‘If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said,behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.’ And it was so.”

Judges 7:2 “The Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’”

It is interesting how easily we can get off track, veering off to the left or the right, as we follow the Lord.  On the one hand, we can doubt God. We can become fearful and anxious when we face difficulties. We can forget that God has told us to be anxious for nothing. We can so easily fear, although the Bible tells us to “Fear not” over 330 times.  On the other hand, we can become overconfident.  We can err on the side of pride and think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Romans 12:3).  Therefore, we need God’s Word to help us find the proper balance.  One such place the Scriptures guide us in this balance is in the story of Gideon. 

In the verses above we find Gideon first doubting God.  God had called Gideon to a very high calling. He had told him that He was about to save the nation of Israel from the oppression of the invading Midianites by Gideon’s hand.  God was going to empower Gideon by His very Spirit and thus work through him in incredible ways.  But Gideon didn’t believe Him. He looked at his own weakness and repeatedly asks the Lord to confirm to him with signs that what He had said was indeed true. One of those signs was that of the fleece, from which the notion of “putting out a fleece” comes. And what did God do? He patiently confirmed to Gideon that what He, Whose name is “The Truth,” had said, was indeed true. 

It was perhaps at this point, as Gideon’s confidence was greatly strengthened by God’s miraculous sign, that he and the army he led became too confident by trusting in their own strength rather than God’s.  And so, we have the account in Judges 7 where the Lord tells Gideon that his army is too big.  He warns Gideon that Israel was in danger of gaining victory in such a way that they would point to their own strength as the source of their success and believe “My own hand has saved me.”  And so, God leads Gideon on a process of whittling his forces from an army 22,000 men to one of just 300 to face an enemy that was as abundant “as locusts” with “camels that could not be counted” (Judges 6:5).  It was in this way that Israel indeed gained the victory, but it was in a way that could only be ascribed to God. 

And so, God would have us to live as we face life in our day.  God has filled His Word with promises. He has called us to face the enemy of our souls with His Word, which is the Sword of the Spirit. He has called us to the incredible work of sharing the gospel with the world so that those who don’t know Him can be saved.  He has called us to face life with confident joy rather than fear, a confidence rooted in the truth that He is with us.  Yet, He would have us to remember that our confidence must always be rooted in Him.  Every victory, every success, every blessing in life is only because He has given those things to us.  He warned Israel of this very thing. He told them to be very careful about their attitude after they were given all the blessings of the Promised Land, with these words:  “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,Who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, Who brought you water out of the flinty rock, Who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may confirm his covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day”(Deuteronomy 8:11-18). 

You see, life for a believer should be lived in the supreme confidence of the apostle Paul, who, in his service to Christ said, “Him (i.e., Christ) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:28-29), while at the same time serving in the humility of Christ, of Whom we are told “though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). 

May God give us the faith to trust in and be confident in His promises as we walk through life, and yet may He keep us humbly dependent on Him, so that as He blesses our lives, we not turn our eyes from Him to the blessings, and worse, to ourselves, and forget the One we say we follow.  May He keep us from viewing ourselves as somehow “better” than those we reach out to with the gospel, and may we constantly remember that we are only sinners saved by grace and that it was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us.  May He always be glorified as we live our lives both by believing His Word and acting upon it, and by living a life of humility, ascribing glory always to Him Who alone is the One Who gives us strength.

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