Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 19 April 19:
Judges 7:4 — “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there.”
There is a difference between being willing and being worthy. God sifted 32,000 to find 300 who were both willing and worthy. Within the original 32,000 who formed for battle with Gideon, only 10,000 were willing to stay when given a choice. However, at the watering hole, only 300 proved to have the character to participate in God’s great battle.
Desert thirst revealed the discipline, self-control, and fortitude of the troops (or lack thereof). Most of the troops, inwardly focused, abandoned their security posture and bearing and essentially dove in the water; meanwhile, 300, who were just as thirsty as the others, knelt at the water, likely with weapons in hand and, in a controlled, disciplined manner, drank. These 300 revealed the strength of character required for God’s service.
God wanted his people to understand that it was His power, not theirs, that would bring victory, but He would use their discipline, courage, and obedience in the process, giving them the opportunity to experience Him in a way few others would. Discipline, daily sacrifices required to maintain and develop character over time, is an act of faith, which God will honor.
The 300 took the signaling devices (trumpets and torches) of 30,000+ troops and surrounded the Midianites in the middle of the night. When Gideon’s 300 broke the jars concealing the torches, shouted, and blew their trumpets, the Midianites and their allies believed they were being attacked on all sides by 30,000; in their panic they turned on each other and fled. Gideon’s army then pursued the enemy as far as they could. Over 120,000 enemy were killed. This bold and daring shock attack required perfect execution on the part of every member of the 300. They had to be wholly reliable. They had to have uncommon discipline, courage, and commitment. They had to be more than willing to serve God, they had to be worthy. The difference was discipline. The discipline of a true disciple.
Discipline is the force multiplier and game changer that separates the strong from the weak. Discipline (self-control) is the fruit of the Spirit that draws from your true passions, your desire to love Jesus rather than to seek comfort. Discipline is developed day-by-day but pays off when the hard times or big challenges come. If you don’t develop your discipline today, you won’t have it when you really need it. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10)
Judges 8:23 — “Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.’”
Gideon had a false humility which is a common character flaw of which the Bible warns. He said he didn’t want to be king yet he names his son “son of a king” — his words did not match his true heart, motives, and actions. Most shockingly, he uses some of the gold to make for himself an ephod (Judges 8:27) which was only to be worn by the high priest — the God-appointed leader. His approbation lust (desire for recognition, praise and attention — Matthew 23:5) turned into power lust and materialism (Isaiah 14:13-14; 1 Timothy 6:10). Gideon used God’s gifts to make himself rich and famous. His pride and greed would literally destroy His family, about which we will soon read. One key message we can’t miss in the Bible is that we are not heroes but mere sinners. ALL glory and honor go to God. We have important lessons to learn from Gideon who was uniquely empowered by God and was incredibly successful, up to the point where he thought himself worthy of honor; then the house of cards fell.
How many fortunate people have you seen name things after themselves – buildings, hospitals, foundations, institutions, even churches? How about us? How have we used the blessings God has bestowed upon us? Have we sought to gain comfort and status for ourselves, or have we sought to use what God has given us for His glory and honor? Do you want people to honor you or Jesus?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 19 Apr 19: Today, examine your humility. What is Christ-like humility? Are you humble? Are you proud of your humility? Humility is the product of a true appreciation of who God is and of our total dependence on His mercy and grace. Humility is a product of Spirit-empowered love. Humility results in selflessness and is revealed in how we treat others and how we respond to situations. Too often, like Gideon, we speak and act humbly (for personal approval or for the approval of others — self-righteousness) when we are not really humble at heart, when our actual motives are prideful. Consider your humility today. Will you value God and others today more than yourself and totally surrender yourself to love?