God teaches us an important lesson through Gideon: focus on your heart before you focus on others’ hearts.
In Judges 6, Gideon knew that God was raising him up to save Israel from the oppression of Midian. The very night that Gideon had a revival moment with God, building the altar called the Lord is Peace, God gave him his first instruction. It is not a war plan; it’s a worship plan.
Priorities! You would think that God would unveil some great military plan to stop the Midianites,
sort of like he did to Deborah and Barak. But God takes a different course of action here and we must catch this lesson. Israel wanted peace. They experience oppression for seven years under the hand of Midian and cried out to the Lord for help. God raised up Gideon to save them, but they needed to look into their own camp for peace and freedom before thinking about Midian. Israel was filled with idolatry and God told Gideon to tear down to the altars to Baal and Asherah in his own town before he gave him any instruction about the Midianites. God was reorienting their heart to Him–a worship plan!
You must get your priorities right in order to be at peace with the Lord. You can cry out to him when you’re in difficult moments (like Israel), but if you’re still trying to find satisfaction and peace in idols, it’s going to be very difficult to see the Lord for who He is and who He needs to be in your life.
Check your own heart before you try to step out in faith to accomplish what the Lord has called you to.
You Might also like
By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.”
― Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam
“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
― Philippians 2:3-4
Pride is a topic in secular and Christian literature, but we find that the Bible is full of examples of pride and instructs us best in how to combat pride. Pride is at the root of any sin you will commit because ultimately you are acting on what you want more than what God desires and commanded.
We will use Judges 9 to identify key characteristics of pride in the life of Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons. Hopefully it will serve as a litmus test for your life and help you search your own heart to rid it of pride.
Today we will examine one characteristic of pride from Abimelech’s life: Pride Connives and Manipulates. Next week, we will see that pride disregards other people.
Abimelech was unique among all of Gideon’s sons because only he was born to a concubine who was from Shechem. The rest of Gideon’s 70 sons were born to wives who were from Ophrah.
Shechem was a city in the land of Israel, right on the border of the the land alloted to Ephraim and Manasseh, and chapter 9 records Abimelech’s wicked plan to become the king of Shechem.
His conniving begins by going to his mother’s relatives in Shechem. He manipulated them by creating a power struggle that might not have really existed between himself and his brothers. He told his relatives to tell the leaders of Shechem that Abimelech should be their leader, and he even adds what is so common in manipulation: guilt. The guilt trip comes through these words: “remember I am your bone and your flesh” (Judges 9:2).
The relatives were convinced and participated in Abimelech’s corruption by giving him money from the house of Baal-berith, a place of idol worship! The amount they gave (70 pieces of silver) seems to indicate that the leaders of Shechem knew what Abimelech was going to do. They basically gave him one piece of silver per brother, whom Abimelech planned on exterminating.
Abimelech then hires “worthless and reckless fellows” (v.4) to follow him. I imagine if you are worthless and reckless that you’ll follow anyone to do anything. This was basically a hit squad who went with Abimelech to Ophrah to kill his brothers–seventy men on one stone.
His selfishness throughout this plan reminds me of something I read about Ronald Reagan. When he was governor of California, Reagan made a speech in Mexico City. About that occasion, Reagan said, “After I had finished speaking, I sat down to rather unenthusiastic applause, and I was a little embarrassed. The speaker who followed me spoke in Spanish — which I didn’t understand — and he was being applauded about every paragraph. To hide my embarrassment, I started clapping before everyone else and longer than anyone else until our ambassador leaned over and said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He’s interpreting your speech.‘”
Sometimes we applaud ourselves the quickest and longest. Abimelech was an arrogant man with a wicked plan. He manipulated the leaders of the town to equip him to carry out that plan, and then those leaders made him king.
My kingdom come, my will be done was Abimelech’s attitude, and he didn’t care what it took to accomplish his plan. Pride connives and manipulates, and next week we’ll see how pride disregards other people.Post Views: 969
By Ryan Strother — 3 years ago
What’s attractive about a buffet restaurant? Everybody gets something they want.
Growing up, my family would actually drive an hour to a Ryan’s Steakhouse for special occasions with my grandparents because of steak on the buffet.
I remember many mornings having breakfast at the Ponderosa in town with Grandpa. We never had to twist his arm to go there. He could get his bacon and eggs while I got those cinnamon french toast sticks with strawberry sauce.
School field trips would often end up at a Golden Corral, and after our high school football team won the state championship, where did we go? The Western Sizzlin! And just about destroyed it…
Everybody gets what they want.
Could I argue that religion today is like a buffet restaurant? It’s about making everybody happy. Everybody gets what they want. But when you’re talking about faith and belief, there is much more at stake than the spreading of germs and food poisoning. Your very soul is at stake.
I recently started preaching through the book of Judges. I introduced the concept of religious pluralism because we see it among the Israelites in the period of the Judges as well as today.
“Religious pluralism is the belief that every religion is true. Each provides a genuine encounter with the Ultimate. One may be better than the others, but all are adequate.” (Norman L. Geisler, “Pluralism, Religious,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 598.)
Just like a buffet of food where you go down the line and think all of this might fill me up, but I’ll pick certain items because I like them better, pluralism would say any of these religions and ideas might give me some kind of satisfaction, but let me pick the ones I like best.
This is a perilous pursuit! Dictionary.com defines peril as “something that causes or may cause injury, loss, or destruction.”
If we don’t follow The Truth, our very soul is in danger of eternal damnation in the torment of hell.
Maybe CS Lewis says it better: “An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or Practical reason is idiocy. If a man’s mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut.” (C. S. Lewis quoted in Credenda Agenda, Volume 4/Number 5, p. 16)
In my next two posts, I’ll explore two specific consequences of religious pluralism. For now, I hope you’ll think about the truth to which you are subscribing in your life. Have you considered the truth of Christ, the ultimate Truth, that points out the reality in our life (our sin) and gives us the only way to find rescue from this depraved condition?
I hope you’ll understand this Truth and experience it yourself.Post Views: 1,637
By Ryan Strother — 2 years ago
If the pressure of the world is mounting, remember that if you are in Christ, you are staring at a defeated foe. You are no longer under the control of the world’s ways. Don’t give up!
3For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, 4because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. (1 John 5:3–4, CSB)
God’s commandments are not burdensome, contrary to what some might think. God’s commands not being burdensome is connected to the fact that those who have been born again have overcome the world. Do you see the first word of v.4— “because”?
Think about how the world impacts us. When the bible talks about the world in the figurative sense, it is talking about the ways associated with a sinful fallen world.
24The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, 25instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 26Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24–26, CSB)
Do you realize that we are born into sin, and therefore, are slaves to the will of Satan? We are in bondage to sin. If you think God’s commands are burdensome, then you don’t understand the futility of the world’s ways.
It’s burdensome to pursue greed; lust; anger; wealth in order to find satisfaction because they will never bring lasting, eternal fulfillment.
Yet, while being in bondage to sin and burdened by the world’s ways, some ironically look at the way of freedom that Christ offers as being burdensome!
Here’s what John says: His commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. The burden has been released by Christ! His ways free us from the world’s futile ways and lead us into the way of righteousness. We have overcome the world, so the way of freedom is not a burden!
In fact, our slavery has been flipped around in a sense:
17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over, 18 and having been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. (Romans 6:17-19, CSB)Post Views: 1,301