The past two days I've shared what the Lord has impressed on me about how Confidence can be Stolen by Fear and Weakened by Comparison. Today I want to wrap up what attacks our confidence, and next week I want to share about REAL confidence. Until next week, I'm practicing that kind of confidence in the laboratory of life, so I appreciate your prayers for me to be victorious. :)
Confidence can be corrupted by success. When confidence is misplaced it becomes pride. Confidence that gives us peace is not the kind of confidence the world promotes. I'm not talking about being "self assured" or "cocky" or having "chutzpah" (sounds like hutsbah). I'm talking about the kind of strength and assurance that bubbles up from somewhere deeper than a french manicure or highlights or a body shaper or charismatic stage presence or a teeth-whitening-strip smile. I'm talking about confidence in my purpose, my potential, and the power behind it all. It's confidence in who God is and who I am because of it. Paul had every reason to fall into this confidence trap, and he said so:
I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
After becoming zealous for things the world applauded, Paul learned the world's "confidence building" are really just rubbish. Success in worldly things corrupted him and produced pride. When he encountered Jesus Christ and humbled himself, He stopped seeking worldly things and drew his confidence from his faith in Christ as His Savior.
Real confidence can be corrupted by success, and real confidence can be ruined by mockery. Satan can whisper suggestions meant to discourage and deflate real confidence. He did it to Jesus when he sarcastically told Jesus to change a stone into bread if He was hungry. He mocks us when we try to follow God's movement in our lives. When a teenager tries to resist joining in foul conversation at school, when a woman tries to support her husband in his decisions, when a pastor tries to teach unpopular truth, or when a blog writer tries to present her idea to a publisher in hopes of a new opportunity to proclaim God's truth :) ... Mockery can ruin our confidence if we listen to the toxic messages from poisonous sources, instead of the truth of God's Word and His Spirit. That might mean we follow God in ways that look ridiculous to others, in ways some don't understand, or even in ways that could potentially embarrass us. Paul understood this first hand, because people rose up as his rivals and even attempted to hurt him while he was in prison. Still, he urged:
The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
He was focused on his purpose as a follower of Christ, and he did not let the rotten intentions of others stop him or discourage him. What great confidence! That's real confidence. We are meant to experience real confidence in Christ, and we'll look at that more next week.
Let's be on guard to resist having our confidence stolen by fear, weakened by comparison, corrupted by success, or ruined by mockery. I want Paul's words to be my own:
Phil. 1:20Isn't it an awesome thought that our confidence can be the means of exalting Jesus Christ? I hope that motivates you to learn the secrets of REAL Confidence as much as it does for me.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.