The Source of Genuine Confidence
Such confidence as this [in ourselves]
is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for
ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a
new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the
Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 NIV)
How can we have self-confidence as Paul describes? Many evangelical Christians
lack self-confidence. An emphasis on depravity (everyone falls short of God's standards)
without emphasizing God's provision in this life, leads to poor self-confidence. Complete
confidence in God's provision depends on His absolute sovereignty. Anything less leads
to an incomplete gospel that tells how Christ rescued us from Hell, but not how God
provides for us here on earth.
Many have sought to correct for low self-confidence by downplaying our sinful
nature and the need to repent without learning what the Bible says about self-confidence
and daily life. This naive optimism ignores that we don't know the future and need
God's guidance, providence, and correction. It takes the approach if people keep trying,
though they may first fail, they will eventually succeed. James clearly warns against
self-confidence based on one's own plans (James 4:13-17)
Some parents raise children to believe in themselves without being plagued with
feelings of guilt and sin. However, children can become self-centered and come to
believe the world revolves around them. They want their own way and are unaccustomed
to criticism. When teachers punish them or other students criticize or reject them,
the result is anger sometimes to the point of violence.
We can have confidence in Christ directing our lives. This confidence
comes from God's all-powerful ability, not from our limited abilities. Just as children
gain security from a strong marriage and family relationship between their mother and
father, Christians gain confidence from God's sovereignty and His ability to guide,
correct, and provide for us. We don't know the future, but God does. Of course, belief
that God loves us and desires what's best for us
is fundamental to genuine confidence. Along with this, God is able to make sure that
we receive what is best even when it doesn't seem that way.
Obeying God gives us this confidence. God revealed His will in the Bible. Reading
the Bible regularly lets us know what it says. However, knowing what the Bible says
does little good without a willingness to do what God says in His Word. In fact,
we can't really understand the Bible without a willingness to do what it says.
If we let selfish desires influence our interpretation of Scripture, then we will twist its
meaning to something different than God intended.
Sometimes we think we must know all God plans for our entire lives
to do God's will. This might be true if fulfilling God's will were completely up to
us. We need to have the confidence that God works through us.
If we truly desire to do God's will, He will guide
and enable us. Remember God sees and values who we are on the inside
while people only observe the external. God will use external circumstances to shape
who we are inside.
When we put too much value on external circumstances,
the situations God puts us in may seem cruel. God's goal in this temporary life is
for us to develop the character that persists eternally into the next life with Him
©2003 Perry Vernon Webb. You may quote this page in part or the whole as
long as you do not alter the wording and reference this Internet page as the
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