And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? – Judges 6:14
Passivity is an easy sin to overlook. It’s not as ugly as aggression, which shows itself in name calling and violence. Or lust, which gets displayed in blatantly unclean thoughts and actions. Those are the crude, in-your-face sins, easy to spot and condemn.
But sitting still when action’s called for is a pretty serious transgression, too, and Gideon’s moment of calling speaks to that. In our men’s Bible study this morning our leader taught on this, and as he did, four words from Judges 6:14 seemed to fly off the page: In this thy might.
“You Talkin’ to Me?”
Robert Di Nero’s famous monologue comes to mind when I imagine the scenario Judges describes. The Angel of the Lord spots Gideon, refers to him as a “mighty man of valor”, and tells him to go deliver Israel from the Midianites with that
All of which would make sense if Gideon had been a powerful man in a position of influence, but that was hardly the case. The Midianites were bullying Israel without mercy, ambushing them when their crops came up and taking all they had. So the poor guy was reduced to threshing wheat on the sly, hiding at the bottom of a winepress so that his meager produce wouldn’t get snatched away from him. By the time the angel addressed him he was a beaten man, cowering and barely
And that’s when he was called “mighty” and “valorous.” Then given directions to go conquer the oppressor. Yeah, right. No wonder Gideon asked for a sign or two. I’d have demanded heavenly skywriting.
Let’s See What You’ve Got
Yet God seems to take two things into account when He calls us: the capacities He’s already given us, and the upcoming work He’ll do both in us and through us. He sees those things clearly where we see them dimly, if at all. From that perspective, He calls us by names we might not apply to ourselves (“Mighty Man of Valor” Judges 6:12; “Father of Many Nations” Genesis 17:4; “The Rock” John 1:42) then calls us to works we wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Passive believers who’ve exchanged prayerful action for despondent worrying should take note: we have more than we know. We’re sitting on untapped capacities and opportunities to use them, if only we will.
These are God-given capacities, mind you, so He still gets the glory when we utilize them. But the point is, while we often wait for God to “do something” about our situation, He is, in fact, the one waiting for us to do something with the power He’s already given us. Three of those powers stand out to me when I consider
The Power to Assess
Plenty of overweight people won’t get healthier because they don’t want to stand on a scale and see numbers they’d rather avoid. Plenty of folks in financial trouble will stay in it because they won’t look at their bills or their bank accounts, both of which contain hard figures telling them how much debt they’re in. Refusing to assess your situation guarantees you’ll never change it, because avoidance isn’t a strategy. It’s a sabotage.
You have the God given power to both face and assess your problems, which is the forerunner to planning your solutions. The one just won’t come without the other. So keep in mind God’s promise to give you wisdom when you need it (James 1:5) and His reminder that you’re already endowed with a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7) which is ready and waiting to be used.
The Power to Speak
We really should weep over the relationships that have been lost, the errors that have poisoned people and churches, and the injustices that have been allowed, all because no one was willing to speak up.
Wrongdoing thrives when Christians shun the inconvenience of saying something inconvenient. So today, you may be facing a situation which begs for someone to speak to it. The passive believer looks at a brother or sister in serious sin, or a doctrinal error growing in a congregation, or a widely practiced double-standard everyone sees but nobody confronts, and says, “Someone should speak up, but not me.” Or, perhaps worse, “I’ll just let God take care of that.”
All of which flies in the face of what Jesus said to do when problems arise in our relationships (Luke 17:3) or what Paul said to do when wrongdoing is thriving in the church (Titus 2:15) or in the culture. (Ephesians 5:11)
You have both the power and mandate to speak, and your reluctance to do so may be the very thing keeping your problem frozen in place. Abdicate your voice, and you can be sure other voices, ungodly but at least willing to speak up, will fill the void you’ve left. And that’s on you.
The Power to Act
I’ve come to believe that our effectiveness in this life is largely determined by how much we accept or avoid discomfort. Because honestly, don’t you find that everything you’ve achieved (especially anything of significance) required you to experience the discomfort of delayed gratification, expended effort,
So when I know something important needs to be done, I’m prone to ask myself, “Gosh, can I really do that?” when the more honest question would be “Am I really willing to experience the discomfort involved in doing that?”
Because more often than not, yes, you can. But it will often be complicated, strenuous, awkward, or unpopular. Yet God has already given us the ability to endure much more hardship than we realize, a sacred truth we can hardly embrace unless and until we’re willing to experience it.
Having Done All, Stand
So there you are, you Mighty Woman of Valor/Mighty Man of Valor. There are Midianites chomping away at your birthright as a More Than Conqueror (Romans 8:37) and if they’re going to be stopped, it’ll be because you dared to believe you are what He calls you, while also daring to shed a lifetime of false names and concepts about yourself you’ve picked up along the way.
“The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon” (Judges 7:20) is a breathtaking concept. It was Israel’s battle cry, a recognition of the mystery of the Unlimited Captain drafting very limited players into a high stakes game.
It can be our battle cry, too, our assertion that God has given us capacities that are limited, but greater than we’ve probably realized. Then, having made use of all we have, we trust Him to make use of all He has.
I’m blessed and downright pumped to step back for a moment and look at this sacred truth: We’re given more than we use, and we’ll be used more if we’ll accept and act on that. Then, in this divinely ordained partnership which He condescends to let us be part of, wrongs get righted, lives are transformed, and Kingdom living is realized.