Does God push the envelope?
Scripture Read: Judges 7:1-2 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the people who were with him, rose early and camped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley. 2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’
Application: Why would the Lord do this? Gideon has already stepped out in faith and obedience, and the number of men he has right now is still very small compared to the Army of Midian. Why would the Lord “push the envelope” like this...
This is a great section from Your Word Lord to help us contemplate two key issues that we all struggle with: Faith and Pride.
First, let’s consider the issue of Faith. Is God pushing the envelope or is it more accurate to admit that we prefer the “comfort zone”? The “comfort zone” is that area in our life where we feel safe and sound, we are familiar with what’s happening and we feel we can handle it. The sad part is that many times we forget that the “comfort zone” is also the “no growth zone”! But our Lord never forgets, and He knows the only life worth living is one that is “alive”. That means growth! Only dead things do not grow. Our Lord has determined that all that will engage Him in relationship will be given on going opportunity to grow. God met Gideon where he was at, his faith was in an embryonic stage and God nurtured him through that. However, it will not stop there with Gideon or with us. The Lord intends all of us to arrive to a mature faith before we go home to Him. Remember, no matter how far the Lord stretches our faith we are always safe:
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
Second, we need to look at the warning our Lord gives Gideon. Again, we may not like this reality, but it is a reality nonetheless. Whenever we think we have “arrived” that is just about the time we fall. The Lord knows that if Israel believes they defeated the Midianites through their own strength they will only move from one bondage to another. From serving the kingdom of Midian, to serving the kingdom of Pride...both will destroy! God is working to set up a deliverance that will show His great love and His great power so the next generation will know that their God is responsible for their well being, not themselves. We all struggle with this, the idea of being a “self made man” and taking pride in what we have accomplished. God warned Israel of this before they entered the Land, but they did not listen:
Deuteronomy 8:11–17 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 15 “He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16 “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 17 “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’
To boast in what the Lord has enabled you to do is very different than this kind of pride. When we are boastful in the Lord we do feel satisfaction with what we have done, but we never forget that our Creator was the enabler and we do not raise ourselves over others. When we are prideful not only are we satisfied with what we have accomplished, but we begin to think that we are “all that” and that we need no one. We are self sufficient, and that always leads individuals to think that they are more valuable that others.
Meditation Questions: How did you feel about your last spiritual victory? What does that say about you? When you look at what you have accomplished in life, how do you feel about that and why? Where is the line between feeling good about what you did and robbing glory from God? Is God so insecure that He needs the glory? Why do you answer the way you do? When was the last time you specifically thanked God for specific things in your life, that you had a part in making happen? What does your answer show you?