Who Do You See in the Mirror?
By Wally Odum
People who take themselves too seriously can make everyone around them uncomfortable. Few have had a healthier ability to laugh at themselves than Abraham Lincoln. Not the most handsome man on the planet, he had a charming ability to turn his features to his advantage. Once, in a political debate, his opponent accused him of being two-faced. Lincoln responded, “I couldn’t be two-faced. If I had two faces, I wouldn’t wear this one.” His ability to laugh at himself was one of Lincoln’s most attractive qualities.
The way we feel about ourselves has many contributing factors. One of the chief issues in determining our self-confidence is our sense of where we come from.
In their book, Self-Esteem, Alister and Joanna McGrath point out that Irish-Americans treat their heritage as something that is extremely important to them. That same sense of heritage is true of the American Jewish community. They grow up with a strong loyalty toward their culture. Their celebration of Passover and their commitment to the nation of Israel show how important their attachment to their heritage is to them. Alex Haley’s novel of the 1970s, Roots, made a strong appeal to the emotional importance attached to their heritage by African-Americans. All of these are examples of the feeling that where we come from affects our sense of identity.
But, what if you don’t value your history? What if you feel that your background leaves you unqualified for success? That was the case with Gideon. He became one of Israel’s noted leaders, but not because he had a positive view of himself. God found him threshing wheat in a winepress. Of course, that’s not where wheat was to be threshed. He was there because he was timidly hiding wheat from the Midianites. God called to him with the unexplainable title, “Mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). When Gideon began to raise protests, listing his reasons and disqualifications, God concluded the conversation by rejecting Gideon’s small view of himself and his heritage.
“The LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’ ‘But Lord,’ Gideon asked, ‘how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.’ The LORD answered, ‘I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together’” (Judges 6:14-16).
That is so typical of how we see ourselves. We know our weaknesses better than anyone does and we are too ready to identify ourselves by them. We know how small we are in the scheme of things and quickly disqualify ourselves by appealing to our poor images of ourselves.
That’s not how God sees us. He called Gideon a “mighty warrior.” Where did that come from? Certainly, not from what Gideon was doing in the winepress. What would have been visible to any observer was Gideon, the timid, fearful farmer. That’s what he thought of himself and that’s what any of us would have thought of him. God saw something else. He saw a “mighty warrior.” That seems to defy explanation. Maybe this is to let us know that God doesn’t see us as we see ourselves.
Underlying the wonder of this story about Gideon there is a point not to be missed. God said to Gideon, “I will be with you.” That is the secret to our success. It is a reminder that who we are isn’t nearly as important as who He is.
Our victory was guaranteed because God uses those of us who don’t even believe in ourselves. Our victory is guaranteed because God isn’t convinced by all our disclaimers and our long list of disqualifications. He sees beyond what we are - to what we can be; and gives the added assurance of His presence. You and I are winners. How can we miss with a God like that expressing such confidence in us and accompanying us into our future?
Copyright © Wally Odum 2011, used by permission.
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Pastor Wally Odum has been in ministry for 30 years and loves to share the Gospel. He brings a relevant, inspirational approach to the Bible. Wally values relevance, but he also values authenticity. His goal is to make Biblical truth relevant to the lives of all who hear him.
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