The Old Testament abounds with unique characters who accomplished singular tasks: Noah built a huge boat which floated through a massive flood. Moses parted the Red Sea and led Israel to safety on dry ground. David slew Goliath. Elijah rode a chariot to heaven. Elisha made an axhead float. Daniel spent a safe night with several shaggy roommates of kingly proportion. Pretty heady stuff for us postmoderns who live in a world of unparalleled scientific advances. Some might even call it strange. But that’s a different conversation.
There’s another name which belongs on the list of Old Testament heroes. If you’ve spent much time around New Life Church, you’ve already heard of him. His name is Gideon, who lived in Israel during the time of the judges in the 12th century B.C. Gideon life is described in just three chapters of the Bible. Go ahead, read his story in Judges 6-8. It’s a genuine page turner, even if you have to turn only two or three pages to read it all. I won’t ruin it with any spoilers here.
If we could speak with Gideon today, he probably would insist he doesn’t doesn’t belong in the hall of faith. But he’s there; check out Hebrews 11:32. What made Gideon an unlikely hero was his complete lack of confidence. As a general rule, high achievers don’t lack poise. Look again that that list above. They were all men of great courage and initiative.
But Gideon was the opposite of a hero’s stereotype. He had an inferiority complex. He didn’t take the initiative to act in a time of great need. Gideon shied away from the spotlight. He struggled with fear. He was self-depreciating. And everyone knew it.
That’s when God stepped into Gideon’s life. Again, no spoilers here. Read it for yourself, even if you think you know the rest of the story. Note Gideon’s fear and repeated hesitation.
Gideon reminds us that God doesn’t use us because of our strengths. He works in us in spite of our weaknesses. Highly gifted people usually claim personal credit for their accomplishments. Often the world heaps acclaim on the likes of Moses or David. But the credit really goes to God. Gideon demonstrates that truth perhaps more than any other character in the Bible. There was simply no possible way for Gideon to take credit for his personal successes. God got all the credit. For obvious reasons. Gideon didn’t possess the right stuff. In his own strength, he wasn’t a hero. He was a coward. But God changed him from the inside out. And God got all the credit.
This Sunday at New Life Church we’ll hear a presentation by two men from an organization called The Gideons. I don’t know if they would describe themselves as men of natural courage and influence. Maybe. Maybe not. If not, they’re in good company. They call themselves Gideons. That’s a good name. They do a fine work of Bible distribution. Let’s support their ministry and learn from their namesake.
Are you willing to be a Gideon?