Confidence in Whom?
Confidence in Whom?
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” - Philippians 4:13
What does it mean to have confidence? Does it mean to be poised, put together; having assurance of presence or personal well-being? My online dictionary defines confidence as follows:
1) the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.
2) the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.
3) a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own ability or qualities.
As you can see, all three definitions convey the meaning of confidence, but vary in application. I think it’s safe to say we all understand the meaning of the word; however, the problem we have is in the correct application.
In private conversation, people have sought assurance about stories they hear in the news. With difficult world, national and local events, and society changing positions on cultural trends, many people feel a loss of confidence. As I listen, a common reaction I have observed stems from the wrong application of the meaning of confidence. If we look at the various definitions, most people understand, use and apply confidence as listed in definition three. This is where the problems begin. It is not a matter of lack of confidence; it is a matter of confidence in the wrong things.
What should we have confidence in? How does it begin? Let’s start with Paul’s Epistles. Often when we read scripture, we miss little key phrases that are essential in shaping and guiding our outlook and faith. Consider this phrase: “In Christ.” These words are one of the most overlooked phrases in our pursuit of confidence. Are we “in Christ?” Do we have confidence “in Christ?”
Now let’s consider Paul’s words to the church in Philippi: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” There is much power and truth to this statement when properly understood and applied. Much like the definition of the word “confidence,” this scripture can also be misunderstood. This does not mean we will be spared trials and tribulations, but it does mean that because of our confidence in Christ, we will always endure. We will grow in our faith through the trials and tribulations. In the book of James, the brother of Jesus, it states that it is a joy to have our faith tested, so we can learn perseverance, which in turn leads to a mature and complete faith. Does that surprise you? How do we prepare? We put on the armor of God!
We are all familiar with the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6. Let’s review the key components: the belt of truth; the breastplate of righteousness; the shoes of the gospel of peace; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. Judging from the seriousness of Paul’s description, he equates every Christian to a fully armored Roman warrior! We are ready when trials and tribulations arrive.
What is your definition of a “good life?” I think most would define it as the absence of pain and hardship; a life of ease. Is that reality? Is that what is promised in scripture? Is that the account we know of the lives of the apostles? Have you ever considered the life of the Apostle Paul? Here is a brief autobiography appearing in II Corinthians; “three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent night and a day in the open sea.” This is not to mention being whipped and in danger from robbers, his fellow Jews and others. Was his confidence dependent upon himself apart from Christ? The answer is obvious.
And lastly, let us consider what we find in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has won the victory. Did you notice that the sentence is written in the past tense? Despite this, we know the struggle continues. This paradox confounds and confuses many. What is happening? The Westminster Confession speaks of our lives as irreconcilable battle between the Devil, the flesh and the world. What is happening in this battle? Is the battle an eternal chess match between God and the Devil? Is the outcome of this chess match yet to be determined? Nothing can be further from the truth. Jesus Christ has won the victory. Based on this fact, can you see why we have such confidence in God through Jesus Christ? Are you prepared to live with such confidence? Now is the time to step out with Christ-inspired confidence in all aspects of your lives. Be brave, be assured and have confidence in Christ!
Yours in Christ,