It is amazing how much courage we can come up with when we want to show off. I recall the time I was knee boarding behind a boat many years ago. I was much younger, more reckless, and more interested in preserving my pride than my health. One of my best friends was driving the boat when one of my other best friends said, “lets drown Jerry.”
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I could tell by the look on their faces that something was up. Soon the boat turned and headed for the wake it had just created. It was fun to jump that wake and show how “good” I was even though I really wasn’t all that “good.” Well, I had shown them that I could jump it without wiping out, so he went around again, this time hitting the double wake. I should have been thinking, “pride goes before a fall,” but instead I was thinking, “no guts no glory.” I should have just let go of the rope, but instead I crested a huge wave and landed right in front of another huge wave that caught the front of the knee board pulling it under water and putting me in a jackknife position.
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The first thing I did when I surfaced was to wiggle my toes to see if they still moved. By God’s grace they did, and after a few chiropractor visits I was alright. My friends felt really bad. They had expected that I would have just let go when I saw the big waves. They had not factored in my selfish pride.
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I fear that sometimes Christians take a similar approach to faith by confusing arrogant confidence with faithful courage. I recently heard of a pastor in a city of less than 3,000 in an area with declining population, suggesting that they should build a 70,000 seat auditorium. No doubt he had confidence, but is that the same as faith? Is it also possible that we could lack confidence and be afraid and still have faith?
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We have been studying Gideon on Sunday nights at First Baptist. He is a great example of a man who was not overly confident, and who was even scared at times, yet he was considered faithful. The book of Hebrews was written many years after Gideon, yet Hebrews 11:32 lists Gideon among those with faith.
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Gideon is such a wonderful example of faith, because he was not trusting in his own ability, but recognized that he could only have victory if God was there to help him. When he was told to go down to the enemy camp, he went even though he was afraid. You see faith is not about a lack of fear, it is about doing God’s will even when we are afraid.
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Going back to my kneeboard example, how many times don’t we go forward even when we are afraid because we think it will help us to look good? Just look at how many guys will do something scary to try to impress a cute girl. As Christians, we should have even more zeal to do things for God and His glory than we do for our own glory. We should go forward and serve Him and do what is right, even if it is scary.
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What if serving God did not improve your standing? What if doing right did not make you look better? Would you still do what God expected? As Christians we need to get out of the rut of being so focused on ourselves and our own improvement- our own pride- and focus instead on God’s glory and His will regardless of what it does for us personally.
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If you are serving God simply so you can look good, that isn’t courageous at all. But if you go forward and do what is right even if it is scary and no one notices, that is true faithfulness. Are you motivated by pride or faithfulness? Will you be found faithful?