Strength Over Weakness

Throughout the Bible, we read stories of how God used imperfect people. He chose people with stuttering lips, poor self-esteem, sinful backgrounds, and little education to perform extraordinary feats for Him. It was a choice based on His grace, knowing His power was greater than any weakness. But though they did great things for God, some never overcame their shortcomings and ended their assignment poorly. God included these stories in the Bible with their strengths and weaknesses to teach us valuable lessons. We can learn from each life and become stronger through God’s grace because of their example—including the good and the bad.

One of those people was Gideon. Gideon was a wheat farmer when the country of Midian was overrunning Israel. Israel had rejected God, and God allowed the Midianites to oppress them for seven years because of their idolatry. But when Israel cried out for deliverance, God raised Gideon to deliver them. It’s a heroic story filled with miracles…and regret. Let’s look at his life in Judges 6-7 and see what lessons we can learn.

Find Our Identity in God

When God visited Gideon, He announced, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”  (6:12) But Gideon didn’t believe he was anything close to a “mighty man of valor.” Even after God said, “have I not sent you,” Gideon referred to his family status to determine who he was: “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (6:14, 15). He put more clout in his natural status than in his God-ordained spiritual status.

We should never base our identity on someone else’s opinion, our family status, or our education. If God says we are someone or something, His word should trump any other opinion. If we believe something other than His word, we will live a defeated life. At the very least, we will delay God’s plan for our lives.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:9-10).

Trust God’s Presence

 When God declared Gideon’s identity, Gideon was quick to voice his doubt in God’s presence with them. He believed God had forsaken them (6:13). Though God, through His justice, had delivered Israel to the Midianites, He had not abandoned them. His mercy was close by, waiting for Israel to repent. God proved this repeatedly with Israel through many deliverances, including His appearance to Gideon. Again, God’s word to Gideon should have been enough: “Surely I will be with you…” (6:16)

God’s clear in His Word that He is always with us. There may be times when we don’t feel His presence, but we must believe that He is still right beside us. The Bible calls this “walking by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Trusting that presence puts us in a position to receive from His presence. His presence contains peace, words of truth, and a vision for the future.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Fear Not

Though God declared that His presence and His power backed Gideon, Gideon still feared. He didn’t take God at His word but required signs to prove it (6:17, 36-37). At one point, He built an altar and named it The Lord Is Peace. But later, God still sensed His fear and provided another sign (7:10-11). Gideon’s fear was greater than any trust He had in God.

Fear is faith, or confidence in, evil. It shouldn’t have any part in our lives. God is a God of peace and commands us to trust in Him fearlessly. Though we may experience symptoms of fear physically and mentally, we should not give in to them. Our faith actions should be to resist fear and act on God’s Word regardless of the situation. Though God may have mercifully provided a sign for Gideon, we have no good reason to require one out of fear. We are born-again Christians with access to His written Word, are empowered by His Spirit, and have been given authority over the devil. This should be enough “sign” that we can live fearlessly!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10).

Keep Our Loyalty to God

Gideon stated out recognizing God’s Lordship (6:13, 15, 24). At one point, he even turned down the opportunity to rule Israel, saying, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you” (7:23). Sadly, though, Gideon’s words were not from a dedicated heart. Immediately he asked the men of Israel to give them their earrings. He made an idol of it, proving a weakness of loyalty (7:24-27).

Like for the children of Israel, God has done amazing things on our behalf. He is God and holds our eternity. Though we may still serve Him, we can still easily get distracted with the cares of life and other pressing priorities that we forget to honor and consult Him. Even our jobs, money, and relationships can become an idol in our lives if we aren’t astute to keep Him as Lord of our lives.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:15).

Finish Strong

Though the golden ephod Gideon made may have been to match what a high priest would wear, God did not instruct Gideon to make it. As a result, it was a stumbling block for Israel and Gideon’s family. Israel began to worship it, paving the way for the total rejection of God later (8:33-34). Instead of setting a lasting example of godliness for Israel to follow, Gideon made a decision that led Israel away from God.

God has honored us with a life-long assignment while we live on this earth. It is to represent Him and lead people to Jesus. We should focus everything we do on fulfilling that purpose, so we can stand confidently before God and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). We may get off track now and then, but a heart in love with Jesus will seek to get back on God’s track for our lives. It’s a race we’re called to run and holds great rewards at the end of it!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

The story of Gideon is both heroic and disappointing. Gideon had great potential, but he had weaknesses that he never overcame. The root of it all was that His faith was weak. He didn’t respect God enough to trust His Word and maintain a lifetime of loyalty to his Creator. Like the gracious God He is, The Lord Is Peace gave him a chance to fulfill His purpose and to overcome his weaknesses. Thankfully, Gideon did allow God to use him to deliver Israel. He obeyed God’s commands. This was his strength.

Gideon is a powerful example of how God uses someone imperfect and full of weakness to fulfill his purpose. Though Gideon may not have fully taken advantage of God’s grace to overcome his shortcomings, we can. We can surrender those weaknesses and insecurities to our Heavenly Father and allow Him to fulfill His purpose in us. It’s not based on our mental or physical ability, our lineage, or the money in our bank account. It’s entirely by His might and power.

So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).


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