Thursday, May 10, 2007

Are you one of the few?

A Lesson from the story of Gideon:

Are we the likely or obvious choice to be church leaders and God’s soldiers – probably not. We are just ordinary men (and women). However, the question is, are we God’s choice? If we are God’s choice then no one, not even hell, can stand against us.

The experience of Gideon provides some very good examples of this reality. Gideon encountered a huge challenge; seemingly impossible. He is faced with fighting a massive army with his 32,000 troops. However, God says he has too many men and wants him to cut back. But wait, this is crazy. Does God want Gideon to be defeated? Is he looking to teach Gideon a lesson? He is definitely looking for this battle to be a lesson. What God is about to demonstrate is that he is not dependent on our numbers, our talents, or our abilities. God removes the overwhelming majority of Gideon’s troops to make it clear that the power and victory is his and not mans.

Church leaders and Christians in general have the tendency to think that the successes we experience are a result of ourselves, our hard work, our personalities, or our talents. However, this kind of thinking and these kinds of “victories” are useless to God. God is clear in the case of Gideon that the glory will unmistakably be the Lord’s. And he is willing to go to the extreme to make it so. We must all remember that we are indebted to God for the opportunity to serve him. God is not indebted to us for our willingness to serve. The simply amazing thing is that God would use us.

Another interesting note is who God removes from Gideon’s army? Is it the slow, the old, the weak? No, it is the fearful. God tells Gideon to tell all those who are fearful and lack faith to leave. If you have fear, then go home. If you don’t have the faith, go home. God wants men of faith who know they can take it because of God. One huge reason for sending home those who are afraid or faint hearted is so that the others will not become disheartened too. Are there church leaders who need to be sent home because they are not up for the battle? Are they causing others in the church to be disheartened?

The story of the Israelite spies who reported back about taking the promised land has some similarities to the Gideon experience. Of the twelve spies, only Joshua and Caleb came back and declared without fear that they could take the land. The other 10 were filled with fear and greatly lacking in faith. Does your church have people like that in leadership? Are your leaders up to the task of taking the land? Are you yourself one of the 10 or of the two? It might be time to get rid of the 10 and go forward with the 2. The 2 might not be the most experienced or likely leaders, but they have the faith. You may need to get rid of the fearful ones; those who think you should shut the thing down. Send them home so they will not negatively affect the others. You can actually build something with 2 men of faith where 10 men of fear will only pull it down.

So Gideon sent home over 2/3 of his army because of their fear and lack of faith. However, there were still too many. God wanted it to be a ridiculous number to ensure the victory is known to all to be his. He instructed Gideon to continue the reduction and he ended up with the infamous 300. So what happened? Did the 300 get destroyed by the mighty armies of the enemy? Come on, this is God at work. No, the victory was the Lord’s. How could this happen? That’s exactly the point. It could only happen with God. There was no doubt that this unconventional and unlikely victory was the Lord’s.

In summary, we must not fear, we must have unwavering faith, we must be willing to fight the battles, and we must give God the honor of success.


Anonymous said...

very good!

Mike and I called you at 6:56AM to have breakfast with us and straighten us out! this would have been a good message for us...


Sharon said...

Hi Eric,

A good reminder of who we are in Christ and it is he who has the victory in any given situation.

I also enjoyed hearing the teaching on Titus Sunday and look forward to the next two weeks.