I have a strong sense of confidence in the Lord and trust the abilities that God has given me. Some people have unfortunately mistaken my confidence for pridefulness and thought they should correct me. Chastising a person for self-assurance is a common practice, because we don’t want to be prideful or boastful in our own abilities, which the Bible warns against (1 Cor 1:29). Pride and boasting are real dangers, as Mark 7 says these “evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Yet, while I have prideful moments, as we all do, it would be inaccurate to say that every time I am bold, I am acting pridefully. Our fear of pride can hinder us from boldly declaring our faith in Jesus. In contrast to pride, the Bible encourages having confidence in God, as 1 Corinthians 1:31 says “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” However, it seems many people can confuse the two, and have a hard time identifying what is confidence in the Lord versus pride in ourselves.
I think Christians are often afraid to make themselves fully known as people of faith because they are worried about how others will view them, particularly concerned they will come off preachy or arrogant. But if we show and share our faith with love and respect for others, we do not have to fear this. As 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” The Bible is full of stories about men and women who stepped out for God with confidence and humility. Seeking God’s will isn’t about always appearing right, or seeking fame and recognition, but when we follow God’s plan and step into the confidence and authority he’s given to us, the world is going to take notice.
God hasn’t called any one person to be greater than another; but he has called us to be confident in him. In Luke 22: 24-27 it says:
A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”
Be great in what you’re called to do or how you’re motivated to serve because the world needs you. In service to God, we can have confidence. As it says in Hebrews 13:6, “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6). If we’re afraid of being labeled as prideful or anything else, we may not step out in faith and do what God intends for us. We can rely on the Holy Spirit in our actions and service. When we place our confidence in God and what he’s placed in us, we begin to change things.
Take the story of David and Goliath. David, a full-time shepherd, ended up facing off with a giant because he was delivering groceries. As he made his delivery on the battlefield, he heard Goliath taunting the army of Israel. David responded, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26, NIV). In other words, “Who does this guy think he is!?” Hearing him say this, David’s older brother Eliab became angry. Eliab said to David, “Why did you come down here and with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and your insolence of heart.” (1 Samuel 17:28, NIV). Eliab did two things here: he demeaned David and his profession and accused him of being prideful.
But if David had been prideful, as his brother accused, he wouldn’t have been on that battlefield. David’s father was a fairly wealthy man, well-off enough that he had servants, so David could have said “You have servants. Why don’t you send one of them instead of risking the life of your youngest son in the middle of a battle?” But he didn’t. David obeyed his father and humbly delivered food to the battlefield. And, because he did, God put him in place to become a giant killer and Israel’s most famous warrior.
Our greatest model of confidence is Jesus. There was never a moment when he lacked confidence in the Lord. He was bold and believed in what he could do because, as he said, “All things have been committed to me by my Father” (Matthew 11:27, NIV). In ultimate humility, he sacrificed himself to save us. “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Jesus was perfectly both humble and confident in God, his Father, so let me challenge you today: are you confident enough in Christ and to step into the role that God has for you? Christ has the power and ability and to carry you through.
In some cases, the posture of humility has been pushed to the point that people adopt it as virtue, whether their hearts are humble or not—this is an attitude of false humility. The Devil would love to keep us walking in false humility because it distracts from the path that God intends for us, a path that leads to an accurate sense of value and identity in his eyes.
What is false humility? False humility happens when a person is affecting a posture of submission, saying, “I’m not important and what I want isn’t important; it’s all about God,” when they are lying to themselves and in reality trying to manipulate situations to suit themselves, trying to impress others with their humility. The truth is that you matter and Jesus matters, but true humility involves putting the focus on God and his will and sacrificing your desires for the love and benefit of others. When we step out in humility to live out God’s call on our lives he gives us more grace. “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
In contrast to false humility is real humility. Authentic humility is not about thinking less of yourself, but rather thinking of yourself less. The world needs humble Christians who know their worth, their value in Christ, and their ability to operate in God’s will and do and communicate the Lord’s truth in the places and moments they are needed.
Consider Jesus’ words:
“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” (Luke 8:16-18, NIV)
God made each of us to shine. He made each one of us unique so we reflect his glory in a way that no one else can. If you allow God to do it, his glory will be seen in you and will never be replicated in the same way.
Maybe you’ve known pride as synonymous with confidence. Maybe you’ve believed that there’s a very fine line between the two, but there really a very big one. Pride says, “I’m better than other people, and I want attention.” Confidence says, “I’m not called to be greater than anyone else, but I am called to be confident that God can and will use me. Attention isn’t a priority.” Jesus says in Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV), “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted all.”
God is the artist who made us in his image. Demeaning and devaluing ourselves in false humility doesn’t glorify God, but neither does being too afraid to step out in faith. We need to have both humility and confidence, and God can supply both. We should aim to glorify God by accepting ourselves as his valued creation, filled with the gifts he has given us to accomplish his will. And it is through the gift of Holy Spirit that we can operate in love, confidence, and humility as we do so. “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit” 2 Corinthians 3:5-6. When we realize the greatness of the Holy Spirit inside of us and rely on him, acknowledge that God made us and loves us, our service and sacrifice become all the more valuable.