Judges 6-8; 1 Corinthians 9
Whenever we go on a trip to the Dominican Republic for our missions outreach with a group, we always get the same questions from females: "Why can't I wear a tank top in the community?" "Why can't I wear a bikini?" Why do I have to wear a skirt to the church services?" Paul wrestles with the concept as why we "become all things to all people" in order to reach some for Christ. Today, we'll look at how Gideon found courage to carry out Christ's commands and Paul's words on why our own desires can actually become a distraction to those around you when trying to be a light for Christ.
Stand up to your desire to do it yourself. We once again see the Israelites have turned away from God, (I'm seeing a pattern here) and are once again crying out to Him. When they finally realize that they are in trouble once again because they have leaned on the side of their desires, rather than His, they do the right thing in crying out to God and God hears them. Are you too stubborn to cry out for help when you know you are in trouble? God is with you when you cry out to Him, and maybe this is against your selfish desire as well, but He wants to rescue you. You only need to seek Him.
Stand up to your desire to be the strongest. One thing I struggle with is always feeling weak. I am most definitely a Gideon, and feel looked down on because I am always the sick one, the weak one, the emotional one. It's a hard pill to swallow, but eventually you just come around and accept it, as Gideon had. Gideon had all sorts of excuses, but God had all sorts of power to match them. God uses the weak to move His mission. This is a common theme throughout the Bible, though it is not a common theme throughout the world. Be encouraged by Gideon's story and allow God to work mighty plans through you!
Stand up to your self-confidence. I think so many times we rely on how confident we are feeling in whether or not we are willing to stand up to a task. In reality, we need to be relying on God's confidence in us. God had Gideon do many things that were huge risks. Yet, Gideon did them and as a result, Israel able to see God's hand once again. Never rely on your own understanding, but on what God's understanding is of you We read how Gideon did not stay confident in the Lord, even after his victories that were brought only by the Lord. He fell into the snare of reward and got too confident in himself, separating from God and making poor choices at the end of his life.
Stand up to what you think you deserve. Paul's words here are really gold here for a Christian that wants ultimate impact for Christ. Paul has a list of things that are "perks" in this world or as one who shares the gospel message, like marriage and financial support for sharing the gospel. Yet Paul says that though these things are not wrong as a Christian, he doesn't want them to hinder God's work through him. He sees his call to singleness as a way of taking advantage of the opportunities to move more for Christ. He doesn't suggest marriage is wrong, as other apostles were married, but that he was perfectly fine as a single man, working for Christ, because Christ is his first obligation, as He should be for married folks as well. Paul took a second job so the gospel could be shared for free to all. He wanted to stay above reproach and be an example of Christ without hindering others to seeing Him. Rather than wasting time worrying about a spouse or a living from God's work, he did what it took to stomp out worldly desires for God's desires. "We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ." (vs. 12) Are you willing to put up with anything to move the Kingdom?
Stand up to your point of view. As Americans, I've seen so many instances of shock as to how other cultures behave or how they conduct themselves in certain situations. As I opened today's reading, I brought up how many question the dress code in the Dominican outreach trips we do. This is something that is hard to explain, but Paul does a stellar job of it here. To reach certain groups of people, you need to form a mutual respect. If the women in the Dominican Republic view Christians as being modest, than that is what we'll be. If our clothes are a distraction to those we have come to be examples of Jesus to, than we will not wear those revealing clothes, because we know that Christ is worth more than a bikini or a tank top. We will become whatever we need to become to not be a hindrance to Christ's work through our attitudes, our clothes, our actions, etc. That is why we don't allow those clothes. Paul will become all things to all people so that many can be brought to Christ without the distraction of his own point of view. This does not mean we are uncomfortable or that we change anything that changes the gospel, but we meet people where they are.
What desires and points of view are you gripping on to that can be a hindrance to others when trying to see Christ in you? Gideon was able to stand up to his weaknesses and accept God's power in his life so that God's work could be carried out. Paul tells us to be all things to all people so that we are not a hindrance to sharing the gospel. If we can't wear a tank top because it will be too distracting in a culture, than we won't wear it. The gospel is more important than our desires and our points of view. Consider your desires as way less than what God desires for you.