Gideon’s miscalculation

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.” (Judges 6:14-15)

That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.  Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”

So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the LORD told him. (Judges 6:25-27)

Gideon has this blind spot about himself.  When the Lord first came to him, he calls himself the least of the least important.  You’d think he was a poor, resourceless man. But when he goes to carry out his first assignment, he takes ten servants with him.  Ten!  Clearly Gideon has at least some standing, if he has so many servants — and the text implies he has more.

Gideon judged himself against the other powerful men of his time and found himself lacking.  He judged himself against what he thought it would take to beat the Midianites and found himself really lacking. But in objective terms, he was better off than his words imply.  And in terms of God’s plans, he had exactly what was needed — faith in God’s power.

Some of us find it so easy to catalog our faults and limitations, and so hard to see our gifts and potential.  I don’t think every human is like this, but some of us are.  I for one find it so easy to say “but Lord, I have so little going for me, how can I be important to anyone?  How can I possibly matter?”  But that’s not just selling myself short, it’s denying God’s handiwork, God who designed and made me, and also God’s resourcefulness — that he can bridge my limitations and move me into the perfect places in the world, where my talents and faith can be of the most use to him and do the most good for the world.

Gideon learned to trust God in spite of his self-doubt.  I’m working on this lesson too.  I’m far from perfect, far short of ideal, but the world needs people who work for good.  I don’t want to waste time doubting myself when God wants me to be one of them.


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