God Knows Who You Are
Valiant? Warrior? Gideon? Seriously? You are almost tempted to think that maybe God had actually made a mistake on this one. When I look at the text there seems to be nothing there at all that would indicate to me that Gideon was either valiant or much of a warrior. I mean, let’s be honest. Gideon was not just the most unlikely choice to serve as God’s deliverer. From a natural standpoint he shouldn’t have even been a candidate. If I had been on the hiring committee, his application would have gone straight to the paper shredder. You know. The whole “don’t call us, we’ll call you” thing? Just think about it:
- Gideon was no different than his contemporaries. Where were God’s people? Hiding. Where was Gideon? That’s right. He was hiding too. God’s people were camped out in the back of some cave and Gideon was trying to keep a low profile in the wine press. Doesn’t exactly speak volumes about either his courage or his boldness, does it? Most leaders are the ones who actually lead. They are out in front. Their example, their sense of conviction, their commitment to the cause inspires the rest of us to rally around them. But Gideon? He’s buried away, hiding from the real issue, afraid to face the real problem. That’s strike one.
- Gideon came from a spiritually dysfunctional family. Read ahead in the chapter and you discover that Gideon’s dad was an idol worshipper. That’s right. Gideon grew up in a home that was filled with spiritual and moral compromise. As a young boy he watched his parents’ duplicity as they professed to be God’s people but in practice they called upon the name of Baal. That was his home environment. Serve God with your lips but your heart belongs to other things. And this is the guy who’s going to lead God’s people? It’s questionable that he even knew God. That’s strike two.
- Gideon was a man who was “full of it.” In verse 11 he’s full of fear hiding in the wine press. In verse 13 he’s full of questions attempting to dodge God’s command by changing the subject. In verse 15 he’s full of excuses trying to convince God that he’s the wrong man for the job. In verse 17 he’s full of unbelief demanding proof that God is really in this divine opportunity. Fear, questioning, excuses, and unbelief. Gideon’s résumé has more holes than a block of swiss cheese. And that is strike three.
Where I come from three strikes means… YOU ARE OUT!!! Ballgame over, pack it up and head to the locker room. This guy was in no way qualified to lead the people of God. And yet, Gideon is God’s choice, God’s man for the hour.
How? Why? It doesn’t make sense. Unless… you take into account the angel of the Lord’s very first words. “The Lord is with you,…” He didn’t begin the declaration by addressing Gideon’s power, ability, or might. He didn’t say, “O valiant warrior, the Lord is with you.” I know, it seems like I am splitting hairs but in this case sentence structure makes all the difference. This was not a case of God choosing the most qualified candidate. God had not aligned Himself with Gideon because He recognized Gideon as a man who could get the job done. No. Just the opposite. Gideon was a man who could get the job done because God was with him. The strength was not Gideon’s. The strength was entirely the Lord’s. Gideon was valiant and Gideon was mighty because God was with him. No other reason.
That should give us tremendous hope. Too often we view the men and women of the Bible as some sort of superior beings or supermen. “They had it all together. They never failed. God was fortunate to have them on His side. I wish I could be more like them.” But the truth is that they were no different than any of us. They had issues. They had questionable backgrounds. They wrestled with compromise and struggled with temptation. There were times when they failed and times when they fell. And just like us they were all sinners who apart from Jesus could do no good thing. And yet, God chose them, called them, and qualified them to serve in His Kingdom. Too often we refuse to step out in faith, to answer His call because all we see are our own weaknesses and frailties. We feel like we could never measure up or meet the standard. Guess what? You’re absolutely right. We can’t. But God has declared that in our weakness His strength is made perfect. We don’t need to be stronger, we just need His strength. All we need is God with us. He is the One who qualifies us for any and every good work. Apart from Him we can do nothing. But in Him we can do all things. Yes, God knows who you are. But He also knows who you can be in Him. Take heart. If God could use Gideon, God can use you. And He will. Just open your heart, say “yes” to His call, and go in the strength that He alone can give.