Word for Wednesday…Confidence
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.Psalm 27:3
Will Smith, a.k.a. the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when trying to help his loveless cousin, Carlton, find romance, famously explained that “ladies love a confident man.” Who knew such sage advice would be featured on a 90’s television sitcom? Though it’s hard to know for certain, I think my attempts to follow it had something to do with winning over the girl I eventually married. Maybe one day I’ll be able to thank Will in person.
While confidence may help us convince the girl of our dreams we are worth pursuing, it can also lead to many problems, hindering our pursuit of Christlikeness and harming our Christian witness. For starters, there is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance, and the pride that always accompanies it, can lead us to believe we are better, smarter, and holier than others. Not only are these feelings explicitly forbidden by the Scriptures, they can lead us to be judgmental and blind to our own faults and failures, close us off from the possibility of correction, and render us incapable of open and honest conversation with someone who feels differently than we do. Similarly, our confidence can often be misplaced, founded in ourselves and our own strength and abilities. It’s painful to witness someone, in a moment of weakness, coming to the realization that they are not as capable as they thought they were. It would be tragic for that moment of realization to occur on the day of judgment.
In spite of all the dangers associated with confidence, possessing it is not inconsistent with following Jesus. Reading the words of the psalmist we can see that confidence can indeed be ours. Being a Christian does not mean we have to live in fear, doubt and uncertainty. But crucial to our understanding is realizing our confidence should not be in ourselves but in God. As the psalmist says in the very first verse, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid” (Psalm 27:1). It’s confidence in ourselves that leads to arrogance and pride. It’s confidence in God that leads to life, joy and peace.
If you struggle to possess this kind of confidence, whether from pride or insecurity, don’t stop praying for God to help you experience it. With the Apostle Paul, “I am confident…that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).