By Madison Hetzler, Crosswalk.com
Our society places a great deal of emphasis upon having confidence in oneself. We rally around the ideas of inner beauty, being comfortable in our own skin, and settling into our identities. We applaud every effort to exemplify these qualities, even in the presence of antagonistic narratives from those around us.
As Christ-followers, it can be tempting to look at these concepts at face value, deem them to be good, and embrace them. What could be wrong with being confident? Is this not to be preferred over low self-esteem? At first glance, we have every reason to believe self-confidence to be a worthy pursuit. It may well be in many respects, but we need to be wary of allowing the world to define our terms.
What is Confidence? (how it is inextricably linked with trust
What one trusts will be the thing in which they place their confidence. For the Christ-follower, we know that we cannot trust our flesh for salvation or for obedience. Instead, we trust in the atoning work of Jesus Christ and his Spirit working and willing within our lives. Therefore, we can only be viably confident when we place our full assurance upon the truth of God’s word, presence, and power.
In looking to Scripture to help us understand what role confidence should play in our lives, we need to understand four key truths.
- First, we need to behold the Lord for who he is (2 Corinthians 3:18).
- Second, we need to know that once Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Third, we need to understand that as new creations, we are called to live like Christ (Philippians 3:8-10).
- Finally, we must remember that the sanctifying work he is doing in us will one day be finished and complete (1 John 4:17).
In all of this, we see that confidence has a valid place of importance in the life of every believer. We also recognize that confidence is not so much built upon our emotions and feelings as it is on our beliefs and understanding. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we find ourselves continually reorienting our emotions when they stray from our creed. Confidence derived from emotions will ever shift and be unstable. Confidence rooted in the Lord will be a steady presence and a driving force in our lives.
Consider these guiding principles for how to be confident and what it looks like to live it out daily:
1. Confidence starts with knowing your God.
We cannot trust a God we do not know. If we do not know the attributes and promises of God, we cannot rest in them. We cannot daily apply the salve that is God’s word if we don’t read and memorize it.
Not only do we need to know it, we need to grow in it (2 Peter 3:18). Growth requires time, intentionality, and consistency. It necessitates that we not only read our Bibles, but that we engage them with curiosity and a desire to learn. Sadly, the process of growing in our knowledge of God can often seem like the most expendable time of our day. In reality, it is the most important. We will never become confident Christians if we sever our hearts and minds from time in his word.
2. Know that you are a new creation.
Before we knew the Lord, our identity was marred by sin. As a result, we had no opportunity to have any fellowship with our holy God. When we came to know Jesus, he gave us the fullness of his righteousness (Romans 3:22).
When God looks at us, he sees his Son. This is why Paul says that we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are not what we were before. All of our frustrated and failed efforts to make something of ourselves were cast as far away as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Our very core, our identity itself, was replaced. We cannot spend time exasperating ourselves in our old dysfunction. We are now sons or daughters of God and are given the freedom to live like it (Romans 8:15).
3. Confidence is knowing that you have a purpose.
God did not redeem us to leave us wandering aimlessly with no purpose. In fact, he gave each and every one of us a glorious and eternal purpose that is far bigger than anything this world might offer. Rather than expending our identity on earthly measures that are passing away, we take our identity in Christ himself. We now live out his life within our own so that the world might see him.
To our old flesh, this type of self-sacrifice is appalling. To our new spirits, this purpose is joy-filled because our objective is worthy of all we are and all we do. We are now building something that lasts, not a sandcastle that washes away with the incoming tide. We are now pursuing a treasure of incomprehensible value, not a hologram that is found empty when approached. We are now the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), the light in the darkness (Ephesians 5:8), vessels of a glorious God (2 Corinthians 4:7). What could be more precious and worthwhile?
4. Know that the Lord is your helper and advocate.
God did not redeem us to leave us with insufficient means to carry out our new purpose. He promises us that the Holy Spirit lives within us to help us know truth and walk in obedience as a result (John 14:16-17). He guarantees that as we pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God (Romans 8:27). He assures us that temptation will never be so great that we lose the capacity to overcome it (1 Corinthians 10:13). He tells us that we walk in victory as we share the gospel (2 Corinthians 2:14). Not one single Christ-follower is excluded from these promises. Claim them. Live by them.
5. To remain confident, renew your mind with what you know to be true.
It should bring our hearts great sadness to realize that as glorious as these truths are, we are prone to quickly forget. Distractions come in many forms and are constantly luring our attention from what is truly good and worthy. This must be why the psalmist extolled the man who meditates on God’s word day and night (Psalm 1:2).
The frequency of meditation indicates a mind that requires constant renewal. Consider the imagery of a person panning for gold. They stand in expectation, shaking a pan back and forth, letting the dirt fall through so that only what is of value remains. You and I need to be standing with pans in our hands because we will take on dirt every day. We use God’s word as the sieve that rids our minds of that which is not worthy of our time and attention (Philippians 1:10).
6. Walk humbly.
It seems counterintuitive that humility, a state of reliance, brings forth confidence. Trusting our own talents, skills, and abilities feels far more natural than relying upon a God we cannot see directly. But our own attributes and resources will ever be in flux. They are not a guarantee but increase and decrease with changing circumstances.
God’s attributes and resources never change. They are steady and sure at all times and in all circumstances. Our pride blinds us to this truth and makes us believe that we are the sustaining force of our own lives. Humility counteracts pride and reminds us that the only form of confidence that carries any weight is confidence in the Lord’s work, not our own.
7. Guard against finding confidence in the affirmation of people.
Fleshly pride makes us crave praise from others. While we are called to love one another and therefore gain their favor to the best of our ability (Matthew 5:16; Romans 12:18), we are also told that we will be reviled for the name of Christ (Matthew 10:22). Our confidence is falsely placed if we seek it in the people around us. This practice makes us thin-skinned believers that are prone to altering our course based on circumstance, feedback, and emotion. It makes us place too great a burden on people who, just like us, fail. It puts us on a teeter totter of pride and insecurity, always rocking back and forth the between the two. Confidence that feels like a pendulum swing is confidence that is not grounded in Scripture, but in people-pleasing, even if those people are ourselves.
Scripture tells us that seeking the favor of others thwarts our very purpose and role in God’s kingdom (Galatians 1:10). Instead of seeking the approval of people, we must live in the approval of Christ. In Christ we can be fully confident because his approval has already been won in full.
Confidence is rooted in what we believe, not in what we do or feel.
We can choose to believe in ourselves, but that is dangerous business. We as people create standards that shift and change like a carnival game target. Living by those standards is like giving over all of our quarters for a prize we rarely win. Even when we do, the prize is only temporarily satisfying. It will seem silly in very little time, carried off or given away when we lose interest. Praise be to God who calls us away from wasteful play and into lasting victory.
Live in that truth. Thrive in his promises. Be confident in his purpose.
With a heart for teaching, Madison Hetzler is passionate about edifying fellow believers to be strong, confident, and knowledgeable in the Word of God. Madison graduated from Liberty University's School of Divinity and now instructs Bible courses for Grace Christian University. She leads weekly studies in her church and home, cherishing any opportunity to gather with others around God’s Word.”
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