In a world where thereâ€™s a push to be proud of oneself, humility is such a difficult word.
Itâ€™s a difficult word, but humility is what mattered in Godâ€™s sight, at least in the case of Gideon.
When God first chose him, it was because of this character, this humility.
Sadly though, after Gideon had victory over the Midianitesâ€”a victory which God had clearly wrought and not Gideonâ€™s and his armyâ€™s own mightâ€”sadly, Gideon began assuming things.
He no longer waited on the Lord, as he did when he had asked for a sign: the sign of the fleece of wool.
Personally, I thought asking for that sign was a bit of an extreme. It revealed a hint of unbelief on the part of Gideon.
But to be fair, it also seems heâ€™s just being cautious. He was careful not to assume things. He wanted to verify if God really had called him.
So, Gideon asked for a sign that was impossible if it werenâ€™t a God-thing. And God graciously granted it.
Gideon dared not place himself at the head of the army without still further evidence that God had called him to this work, and that He would be with him.
He prayed, â€œIf Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said, behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew will be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth besides, then shall I know that Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said.â€
In the morning the fleece was wet, while the ground was dry.
But now a doubt arose, since wool naturally absorbs moisture when there is any in the air; the test might not be decisive.
Hence he asked that the sign be reversed, pleading that his extreme caution might not displease the Lord.
His request was granted.Patriarchs and Prophets, Chapter 53, p. 548
Gideon had reservations about himself and his own position and abilities. He doubted that God would choose him.
After all, he was not a ruler, a priest, or a Levite. And yet, God chose him for the very things he was not.
[Gideon] thought himself the least in his fatherâ€™s house.
But God saw in him a man of courage and integrity. He was distrustful of himself and willing to follow the guidance of the Lord.
God does not always choose for His work men of the greatest talents, but He selects those whom He can best use.
â€œBefore honor is humility.â€ Proverbs 15:33.
The Lord can work most effectually through those who are most sensible of their own insufficiency, and who will rely upon Him as their leader and source of strength.
He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to His might, and wise by connecting their ignorance with His wisdom.Patriarchs and Prophets, Chapter 53, p. 553
The problem with pride
Today, we often hear of people saying, â€œBe proud of yourself.â€ As a Christian whoâ€™s always had embraced the concept of pride being a dangerous ground to be in, that statement had always bothered me.
I admit, though, that I was proud of my achievements. At some point, that pride kept me from being lousy at school. That pride wanted to keep me on my pedestal of academic honor.
But, when it came to things of God, that pride wasnâ€™t so useful. In fact, it often became a stumbling block.
And hereâ€™s what I mean by that.
How often do we hear speakers in the church being introduced to the congregation with their long list of accolades?
I canâ€™t say this on behalf of every speaker out there, but, I know you canâ€™t disagree with me on this either. Doesnâ€™t that kind of introduction feed the ego of the one being introduced?
I know Ryan Holiday has this book titled, â€œEgo is the Enemy,â€ but heâ€™s not the first to point that out. Long ago, Luciferâ€™s story already reveals how pride goes before destruction. The archenemyâ€™s fall is rooted in his pride. Synonymous to that is selfishness, self-centeredness, and the act of trusting to oneâ€™s own wisdom. Heavy?
Yes, heavy. Itâ€™s a sickness, thatâ€™s why. Itâ€™s part of the anti-love principle Satan has been proposing all along.
Satanâ€™s pride is about him being wiser than God, and him proposing an alternative way of life as if that way is wiser than Godâ€™s already established way of livingâ€”the way of love.
And that pride will really be a precedent to destruction. Whenever we act wiser than God, not waiting on Him for explicit instructions, and trusting our own wisdom, we would often see ourselves failing.
That, exactly, was the sad consequence of Gideonâ€™s own folly after God gave them victory over the Midianites. His experience was like that of Joshua after God also gave Mosesâ€™ successor the victory over Jericho.
Both Gideon and Joshua won not by their own might or power, but by Godâ€™s.
And yet, immediately after their victory, when these two men failed to go back to God in a prayer of gratitude, they succumbed to the devilâ€™s temptation of presumption.
Both Gideon and Joshua began assuming and presuming things, without waiting on Godâ€™s word to guide them.
Gideon assumed he was being called to be a priest, so he made an altar that was going to destroy the faith of his descendants and drown them all in the folly of idolatry.
Meanwhile, Joshua led the battle of Ai without Godâ€™s go signal.
Both these guys were at one point wholly dependent on God, but after a magnanimous victory, with their pride beaming on, and with the great controversyâ€™s experimenter and proponent Satan urging, the two â€œheroesâ€ proved their weakness.
In the end, God is the only true hero.
The ultimate safety of any worker and representative of God is to make sure to ascribe all glory to Him, else, pride would destroy everything, even the initial victorious work He has only recently done on behalf of the representative.
As in the Gospel, so it is in any endeavor of spreading the Gospel. God is the true hero. Humility is, in a sense, accepting that as the fact.
And because God is the hero, the only appropriate response after a victory is gratitude.
Without that gratitude to the One whoâ€™s made the impossible possible, we will always be in the danger of boosting our egos, and like the archenemy, ascribing to ourselves the glory and greatness that was the prerogative of Christ alone.
May Godâ€™s Spirit keep us humble. Amen.