Forty-seven-year-old David Asprey, founder and CEO of Bulletproof coffee, wants to live to be 180. He’s invested a million dollars in extensive stem cell treatments and plans to spend several million more to become a centenarian. He’s confident that science will get him to his goal.
Sometimes we Christians put our confidence in the wrong things, like health, success, money, and career. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what godly confidence looks like. Is it okay for a Christian to be confident? Is it possible to be confident and humble at the same time?
We often feel confident because of our own abilities or good qualities. But if we mess up, we suddenly lose our confidence. We may feel like a failure. This is a fragile confidence, temporary at best and based upon our own performance or our own goodness. Scripture addresses this mindset. “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10, 11 English Standard Version).
It’s true. We lie, gossip, manipulate, and the list goes on. We’re born with the tendency to sin, little rebels against God. But out of the compassion of his heart, God sent his Son, Jesus, to pay the ransom for our rebellion and sin. Scripture explains it like this: “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:24, 25 NIV).
Because of Jesus’ work on the cross, we are forgiven and brought into God’s care. Like a shepherd caring for his sheep, God leads and guides us every day of our lives. In turn, our relationship with God gives us a newfound confidence.
Seeds of Trust
I plant an herb garden every spring. I put the little seeds in the soil and water them. A few weeks later, I see tiny shoots of cilantro, mint, and parsley pushing up out of the soil. I really didn’t do much to make these herbs grow; I just planted the seeds.
God’s kingdom is like that. As we trust in God daily, our confidence in him grows and in turn he gives us confidence in life. We live confidently before God and others, knowing God is with us. Our little seeds of trust in God grow and his work in us fuels our confidence.
Matthew 26:31, 32 gives an account of Jesus and his disciples celebrating the Jewish feast of Passover. After the meal, Jesus told his disciples about his impending death and resurrection, warning them that they would all fall away because of him that very night. Jesus had hardly finished before Peter jumped in with, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away” (Matthew 26: 33, ESV).
It’s amazing that Jesus didn’t send Peter out of the room at that moment. Obviously, Peter wasn’t listening. Jesus said every one of them would fall away, but for some reason Peter didn’t think this applied to him. His confidence was staggering and sadly misplaced, because a few verses later we read that Peter did in fact deny Christ—three times—for fear of being associated with him. His confidence was in his own ability rather than in Christ.
Properly Placed Confidence
On the other hand, Paul, who could have easily boasted in his heritage, education, and abilities, wrote that all such confidence is worthless. In Philippians 3:7, 8, Paul stated, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (NIV).
We can relate to Peter. It’s easy to misplace our confidence, to lean upon own strength and abilities rather than God. So how do we practice humble confidence? Here are few practical ways to live confidently yet humbly before God.
Pray. When we come to God in prayer, we’re acknowledging our dependence upon him. We’re saying, “I need help. I can’t make it through this day without you.” God hears us when we cry out to him. Our confidence is that our father in Heaven is listening, watching, and providing all we need each day. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).
Read the Bible. Reading God’s Word gives us confidence to humbly approach life and the world around us. We read God’s great and life-giving promises. He speaks to us through his Holy Spirit as we read and ponder his Word. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
Confess your sins. Sin disrupts our relationship with God. Thankfully, we confess our sins to a compassionate father, not an angry judge. We can confess our sins without fear of punishment because Jesus bore our punishment on the cross, once and for all. And we continue to confess our sins because we keep sinning.
Commit to fellowship. Regular fellowship with other Christians helps us in our spiritual journey. As we humbly share with Christian friends our struggles with sin and temptation, we grow in confidence toward God. We see what he’s doing in us and through us.
Confident in God’s Gifts
Christian Olympian Eric Liddell observed, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” Liddell didn’t put his confidence in his speed, but in God who gave him his ability. Like Eric Liddell, when we put our trust in God, everything we choose to do in life is for his behalf, for his glory. As a result, our God-given talents and abilities lead us to a humble confidence.
A young man in our church died suddenly. The following Sunday, I watched his family worship God in the midst of their loss. They sang about God’s goodness and wisdom. It was confidence on display. They trusted God and his Word. They believed the gospel was enough. Their confidence came from a source outside themselves. None of us knows how many more Sundays we have. Our times are in God’s hands. Let us respond in confident trust each day.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
Jennifer Hinders is a part-time freelance writer, blogger, and substitute teacher. She lives in the Washington, D. C. area with her husband.