By Shannon Staffer
In this age of highly technological gizmos and gadgets, faster this and more powerful thats, along with a tremendous demand on us and our time to deal with our family, a job, our physical appearance, the brethren and so on, there comes what we so affectionately call “stress.” When this “friend” comes and invites himself into our lives he brings problems and more complications that can shake, crack, and crumble everything around us. If we do not have a sure footing then we are doomed to crumble right along with these things. When such occurs in our lives, what is it that could help prevent much of this and yet is the most severely damaged when these things do start causing us problems? Our confidence. This is an important subject because as our confidence in all these other things (family, job, etc.) goes down then so will our confidence in God, his word, Christ, the church, and our work in the church.
Dealing With Stress
How are we going to tackle these problems which we feel are “stressing us out”? If we are truly striving to be “Christlike” then a good does of humility will go a long way in the attempt to resolve many of our problems. We should be humble just as Christ was humble (Jn. 13:15,16; Phil. 2:7,8). Paul also exhorts us to have this attitude and disposition (Col. 3:12; Eph. 4:1,2). If we are humble about our situation at work then maybe it won’t be us saying, “the boss just doesn’t like me, that’s why I have been so much trouble at work” – or at home “why are you being so hard to get along with?”, but rather we will be looking to ourselves and evaluating what kind of employee, husband, or wife, etc. we are being.
But, even with a more humble attitude we can still lack confidence, so we must also remember God’s promises. The key to remembering and having confidence in God’s promises is to note God’s faithfulness in keeping his promises. God has been faithful to his people for centuries, as long as they followed him. We must learn to appreciate and have confidence in the fact that “God is faithful” (1 Cor. 1:9; 10:13; 2 Thess. 3:3). And, when these problems do seem to get the best of us, never forget that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). Truly this is a great blessing and source for our confidence which takes so many blows in our daily lives.
As we wrestle with these problems which plague us and destroy our confidence, we must also simply do what’s right and feel good about it. Think about when you repair or build something. When you put a little time and effort into it, what happens? “Wow, it works better than ever” or “I think that is the best looking project I’ve ever finished.” So it is with our service to the Lord. When we put some effort and time into it and we know we are doing what is right then we feel good and we should. Do what’s right and feel good about it; it will boost your confidence. You won’t be sorry.
Finally, as we seek to deal with stress and keep our confidence up we need to “remember Job.” As I use that phrase it sounds like a cliche but I believe it applies tremendously in this situation. Consider with me. When things start going wrong in our lives and it seems like we can’t win for losing, what do we usually do? We start getting down on ourselves and everything around us. We think of how tremendous our problems are and how no one’s problems are as big or complicated as ours. At this point we really do need to be pitied, not because we have so many problems, but because of our height of selfishness. We need to stop and take note of two or three people who have more problems than we do. We need to “remember Job” and some “Job’s” that we know personally to help us overcome our selfishness.
Why Do We Lack Confidence?
We have talked about these things that play havoc with our lives and some ways to deal with them. That is all fine and good, but really, why do we lack confidence? I believe one of the biggest reasons is fear. We lack confidence many times because we are simply afraid. We fear teaching the gospel and begin to offer more excuses than one could imagine. But you don’t have to be afraid of your inadequacy to teach. It will not be our wonderful teaching that changes men’s hearts, but Paul said that the “gospel of Christ” is the “power of God unto salvation ” (Rom. 1:16). True, there needs to be some study and training on our part, but we can’t be afraid to teach people because we are too busy saying “I can’t ” or “I don’t know enough.” This attitude has caused many Christians to sit back and do nothing. We recognize in business, sports and almost every other part of life that if we say we can’t, then we won’t. Why then when it comes to the work of the Lord’s church do we not oppose and correct this attitude the same way we do in other things. If this attitude is allowed to prevail then we will be in that group in Revelation 21:8, who are “cowardly” and will take “their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.”
We have already discussed at some length another reason why people lack confidence, that being stress. Take a moment though and ask yourself, “I wonder if Paul ever had any stress; anything to be concerned about?” Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28. Notice verse 28, “besides the other things”: Paul says this list is not complete but besides all that was his “deep concern for all the churches. ” Paul loved all those churches that he had been a part of and he was concerned about them on a daily basis. So then the question comes back to us. Are we that concerned about the congregations which we attend or when problems come along does that immediately separate us from our brethren? Do I become so wrapped up in my own selfish, oftentimes insignificant, problems that I do not see or even care about what is going on in the church? Or, do I have Paul’s attitude?
A third reason we lack confidence is because the world keeps telling us that circumstances mean everything. Just watch TV for a little while and notice that if you don’t live in the right place, use the right deodorant, or the right toothpaste, then you are a nobody! We become discontented with who we are and what we have and it is difficult if not impossible for us to express the atittude that Paul did in Philippians 4:11. As our confidence begins to slide we hear ourselves saying as we look into God’s word, “yes, but that was Abraham or Paul, etc.” Look at Hebrews 11 for a few moments and notice that list of people. Think about some of the circumstances in which they found themselves. I take it that one reason these people are listed for us is so that we can look at those individuals and think about what they overcame. They were striving to serve the Lord day by day and we can overcome just like they did in their lifetime. Circumstances do not mean everything!
Before we close let us look at a couple of examples to illustrate what we have been talking about. Contemplate David as he goes out to check on his brothers who are at war with the Philistines. As he approaches the battlefield, instead of a battle, he sees a giant man standing in the valley shouting and taunting the host of Israel. After some inquiry into the situation David determined that he would go out and fight this Philistine. But wait a minute David, you are just going to go out there and get yourself killed. You, better just sit in the camp for a while and discuss the situation with all of the other soldiers. There was no stopping David though, and why was that? Because David placed his confidence in God. He had the battle won before he even stepped out of the camp. David lived the principle long before Paul penned Philippians 4:13. We as Christians need to take a lesson.
Consider also Peter, in a very familiar passage in Matthew 14:22-33. The account is when Jesus came to the disciples walking on the water. As Peter had requested to come to the Lord on the water he came down out of the boat and began walking to Jesus. When Peter began to look around and saw the waves crashing and felt the wind gusting he began to sink. He then cried out and the Lord pulled Peter out of the water and said “O ye of little faith, why did you doubt?” As we have been thinking together we haven’t really been talking about confidence, we have been talking about faith.
Let us look at one more example which is found in Luke 17:4-6. As the Lord talked to his disciples about forgiveness, He told them them if a brother were to sin against them seven times in one day and repented then he was to be forgiven. Seven times in one day! The apostles immediately began to think about how difficult this would be and so they said, “Lord, increase our faith.” But the Lord said that it was not more faith they needed, but that they simply needed to use the faith they had already. Likewise, we need to learn to use the faith that we have because we too do not need more faith but a better use of what we already possess.
So then let us remember these things and not let Satan tear us down and destroy our faith. Brethren, it is my hope and prayer that we could all reiterate the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7 at the end of our life and says, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Amen.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 18, pp. 558-559
September 17, 1992