Steven Furtick — Where's Your Confidence?
Usually, I think in our culture we're approaching confidence at a surface level and it's a Bible word. I'll read you a few verses that say the word confidence. It's also mentioned in a positive context, even right in Philippians, the same book of the Bible, Chapter 1 verse 6 Paul says, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus or in 2 Corinthians 3:4 and 5. Paul is clarifying such confidence we have through Christ before God. In Hebrews 10:19, he says, therefore brothers and sisters since we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus.
It's interesting because I just read three scriptures with confidence in the verse, but none of them had the word self in them. You hear me? And one real real tendency I see today in my preaching is to import a concept from culture and to try to bring it over into Christianity and a lot of times when we do that, we don't take time to extract the the cultural dynamics like confidence what it means today would have been totally foreign to someone like Paul because although he used the same word confidence, he didn't necessarily mean the same thing.
In the first verse I read to you, he said, "I'm confident of this, that he who began a good work in you". In 2 Corinthians 3:4, he said, such confidence we have through Christ before God and Hebrews 10:19 he said, we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus. This is not a confidence that is the result of my accomplishments and now sadly, culturally it seems that we have put confidence in our confidence. It's become more of something that we project than something that we actually possess, and so we are learning to speak confidently, walk confidently, post confidently. We're learning sometimes to perform with confidence, but any performance that is not based on true possession is short-lived. Furthermore, it can be just as dangerous to have too much confidence as it is to have not enough confidence.
But it's the question for me how much confidence and yet when I was studying the passage this week, God said it's the wrong question. The question is not how much confidence, but what are you putting your confidence in? It's not about the amount of confidence, so we don't need to teach our children necessarily to be more confident. I know that sounds counter cultural and counterintuitive and I know that that you want your children... I want my children to be social and I want my children to stand up for themselves and all of that, but but what good is full confidence if it's misplaced? Some of the most confident people I've ever met were simultaneously the most ignorant. In fact, the times in my life that I was the most confident were the times in my life that I was the most ignorant.
One one of my friends was asking me, "Why don't you put all your sermons online from when you started the church twelve years ago"? I said, "There's a statute of limitations". That's stuff I said when I was in my 20s, I don't know if I believe that anymore. I don't know if I'll still believe what I say today in 20 minutes. I'm a work in progress. I'm not God. Oh, I used to preach with confidence. Before my dad died of ALS, when I would talk to somebody and they were sick in their body, it was simple to me, God is a healer, but when I prayed every prayer about healing and he still took his last breath, I lost my confidence. Not in God, I didn't stop thinking he was a healer, I just realized that sometimes healing looks different from his perspective than it looks from my perspective.
We're so quick to categorize. False confidence will cause you to categorize who's going to heaven and who's going to hell, who's living for God and who's not living for God, who's successful, who's not successful, or what you would do if you were raising their kids. Can I be honest with you? If you're raising their kids you might have a prison ministry from inside the prison. Paul says, watch out for the dogs it's a safeguard for your faith, but you got to watch out for the dogs and he's not talking about drug dealers or liberals. He said, watch out for the dogs. The evildoers, the mutilators of the flesh, those Judaizers who are trying to tell you that you need to be circumcised as a sign of your relationship with God because they are importing the custom of the Old Covenant and trying to take the way that God used to identify his people and trying to bring it over into your relationship with Christ.
What was happening at the time is that a group of Jews who had converted to Christianity wanted to force the Gentiles to prove that they were sincerely a part of the people of God to be circumcised physically, to indicate their spiritual change and their relationship with Christ, and Paul called them dogs. He called them the same thing that the Jews would call the Gentiles. He called these Jewish believers who were trying to make the Gentiles more like Jews. And he said, you got to watch out for any temptation to try to prove outwardly what can only be accomplished inwardly.
You've got to watch out for any temptation. You got it? One lady clapped, she's deep. You've got to watch out for any temptation to appear to be something that shortcuts the process of actually becoming that because it's much easier to cut away the flesh than it is for you to allow God to cut away those things in your heart. It's much easier to modify certain parts of your behavior and then you develop a confidence in the flesh and you start thinking that because you don't smoke, you're not going to hell. You start thinking that because you don't struggle with what they struggle with, that it somehow elevates you to a level of spiritual status that is better than someone else, but if you live a little while, I said if you live a little while, all of your categories will get confused and you will live to see some people who seemed so holy and all hell will break loose and you'll find out that their house was pretty, but it was a built on sand.
I'm telling you, you live long enough and you'll find out that some of the people that impress you so much with their language and their lifestyle, deeper down there were some things going on. Some of the people you're trying to imitate right now are miserable and you keep trying to be like them you keep judging yourself against the standard of their accomplishment. Paul says, I don't put any confidence in that, not anymore. I used to have a lot of confidence that was based on my performance and my circumstances and my connections and my competency and my character. He says, "If you want to play the game of whose flesh is better, let's play". So Paul says, "If you really want to play this game and start comparing of who kept the Sabbath better, you want to really play this game of who's the better Jewish person or you want to play this game of who's more religious or who has a louder hallelujah or who knows more hymns or who can quote more scriptures, or who can look more holy".
Paul says, "Let's play. I was at the top of the top of the top of the top. I was a Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin, of the people of Israel. As for zeal, persecuting the Church and as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. So I had connections, I had the right people in my life, I was competent, I was a teacher of the law. I was so good at what I did that they sent me to Damascus to get more Christians who were preaching about Jesus and to bring them back and put them on trial. But on my way to Damascus, something happened that I wasn't expected because I was comparing myself to people. But on the way to Damascus, I was riding on my horse and I was blinded by a light and it knocked me down off my horse and all of a sudden I found myself on the ground and I was no longer comparing myself with people, but I saw the radiance of Jesus Christ. And in comparison to him I realized how nothing I really was. And I lost my confidence. I lost my confidence because I got a glimpse of true greatness". And a lot of times we are told that we should not compare ourselves because it will cause us to lose our confidence.
A few weeks ago, Holly stood on this very stage and delivered a fantastic message to the ladies of our church about support systems. She said that we shouldn't compare ourselves and I disagree, I think that we should compare ourselves as long as we keep it in context because sometimes God will use comparison in your life to help you want to get better. Yeah, the problem is when you start comparing one area of your life to one area of somebody else's life and don't take the other areas into context, you either begin to feel superior to them or you begin to feel inferior to them and the bigger issue is in contrast to Jesus Christ, none of us really have any righteousness to stand on or reason to feel superior.
I think you should compare yourself to others from time to time. Compare yourself to other moms, compare yourself to help they're raising their kids and sometimes it'll make you feel like you're such a better mom than they are, and then other times it'll make you feel like the worst mom in the world. And then compare yourself if you're married to somebody who's single and then if you're single, compare yourself to somebody who's married and then if you're really successful in your career but you're not spending a lot of time with your family, compare yourself to somebody who's killing it in the family category, but then if you're really killing it in the family category compare yourself to somebody who just received another promotion, but it only means they have to travel more and so their marriage is barely hanging on, but they don't tell you that and so all you see is their new car.
I mean I would suggest that... and I kind of believe what she said, but I think you actually have to compare yourself until you get to the point where you are so exhausted and nauseated of looking to others for your standard that you realize that everybody is faking it. Can I just say that? Can I just put this out here for your consideration? Everybody's faking it. Everybody's hiding something. Everybody is smiling about something, but y'all fake it til you make it it's not in the Bible. It's not a proverb, it's not a song, it's not in Galatians, it's not a red-letter verse and I'll tell you what's happening. We're faking it, but we're never making it because as soon as we make it, it's not it any more and life unfolds and just about the time, now I feel like preaching, just about the time I was just gonna teach today, but just about the time that you master one set of skills in one stage of life, the rules change.
Just about the time that you learned to shush your baby they're teenagers and now you're not trying to get him to shush, just trying to get him to talk to you. Now they won't say anything. Ain't it true? You don't know yet. I'm telling you. I'm telling you this is the truth. When I was 17 years old, oh man I was confident, when I did my ordination council and they were ordaining me for ministry I actually was so confident, if you want to use that word, I actually changed the question that they asked me. Who does this? I'm so embarrassed telling you this. I was so certain, I was so confident.
Christians can be so confident in what we think we know and what we think others should do and I'm afraid that one of the reasons we are losing the battle to influence culture is because we are so confidently wrong about things that we haven't even really looked into. But we have cliches. Oh, we've got cliches and we're confident in those cliches. You know, the Bible says, and then you ask that person, where is that in the Bible? And you know it comes next, is in there somewhere, confident too. I mean, we'll write off a whole group of people based on a scripture you never even read, but you just heard about one time.
And Paul said, "I was like that. I was I was confident. I was confidently executing on what I thought God wanted me to do and then came the crisis". I was so confident and then God allowed a crisis for Paul. It was a crisis of faith and it may come in many forms. For some of us, it will be something that happens to our bodies or it will be a condition we will struggle with in our minds, or it will be a relationship that we no longer are able to control. It could take any form, but the point is forgot to bring you to the end of your confidence so that you can find faith. Faith is confidence in what we hope for an assurance of what we do not see, so we've been trying to hold on to our confidence and we keep just bumping ourselves in the mirror and we keep trying to give ourselves speeches so that we can convince ourselves that we can do it when all the time God has been trying to use the circumstances of our lives to nail our confidence to the cross. Because only after your confidence dies can real faith come alive.
Paul says, "I was confident in who I was. I was confident in what I knew, I was confident in what I thought, but something happened to me. I was blinded in my eyes and when I lost my vision and when I could no longer make sense out of it with my mind"... Who am I preaching to? Some things have been happening in your life that have confused your view of how the world is and it no longer works like it used to work and it's not doing what it used to do and you thought God left you. You thought your faith was disappearing, no baby, this is just the crucifixion and three days after crucifixion, comes resurrection, so when you lose your confidence, you are a candidate for grace.