Last night, I had the honor of leading the devotion (on the topic of genuine faith) before we went out for Treasures strip club outreach, and I will be sharing that with you today. As I spent time meditating on this, praying, and talking to my mentor about it, I was truly blown away by God’s incredible timing of trusting me with this topic. It has been a season of trials and challenges in my life. God is patient even when our faith is not as strong as it could be. He is with us through our doubts and battles.
As it continued to be a difficult season for me, God kept opening up more doors and asking me to do things for Him. This reminded me of Gideon’s story. Who are you in the midst of trials? How will you remain faithful even through doubts, pain, and questioning?
Gideon’s story in Judges 6-8 is a wonderful example of genuine faith. There are many elements to study, but one beautiful lesson is that God is patient with us even as our faith is not yet strong. In these chapters, it’s like God is coaching Gideon live, in real battles.
Chapters 6-8 tell his story. Gideon was hard at work on his farm, doing his normal, everyday life, when an angel of the Lord called him to lead the Israelites in battle to defeat the Midianites. God had allowed them to oppress the Israelites for the previous seven years because they had not followed him. As a result, the Israelites had been forced to live in the mountains and caves for safety. This is why the angel found Gideon.
Gideon had some initial doubts (wouldn’t you?), but God was incredibly patient in helping him to overcome those doubts, as described in chapter 6. He then organized a strong group of men to expel the Midianites. God told Gideon to reduce the size of his army…and it wasn’t a subtle change. Eventually, the army went from 30,000 all the way to 300.
It’s important to remember that God works with intention. He doesn’t make changes or take away without reason. The purpose of this down-sizing was to demonstrate to the people that the upcoming victory was clearly God at work, not the power of man. Gideon secured the victory over the Midianites by following God’s command. However, he didn’t do this perfectly and completely confidently. He was real. He was authentic. And he wasn’t afraid to tell God that he wasn’t so sure about the whole plan.
I’m going to share the 4 elements of having genuine faith that helped me immensely with last night’s outreach, and with the navigation of some tough trials in my life.
We can’t be used for God’s purposes if we can’t humble ourselves before him. I used to be a huge perfectionist and people pleaser, and I would try to hide from God when everything in my life wasn’t going super well. Gideon’s story shows us that God can handle our mess.
Be honest about where you’re at. God can handle your doubts, fears, and shortcomings. I had to take off the mask and stop being a perfectionist in order to have genuine faith and be used mightily.
In judges 6:13, Gideon continually says, “Me?!” “Me, my master?” He began with a humble heart, and it had to turn also to a willing heart. This is often how I feel when God trusts me with a task…“Me?!”
God will use us in our genuine faith, just as we are. Even with doubt. Sometimes the best prayer is to ask God to help you in your unbelief. Gideon had doubts. But God said in Judges 6:16, “I’m with you. Believe me.” What a simple and reassuring reminder. He didn’t get angry with Gideon for questioning. He won’t get angry with you. With God, there are no stupid questions. So be humble. He doesn’t need you to have all the answers. I also love in judges 6:23 it says,
“But God reassured him, “Easy now. Don’t panic. You won’t die.” I think I need to put this on sticky notes everywhere in my life. Easy now. Don’t panic. You won’t die.
2. Willingness and Sacrifice
Remember that Gideon was hard at work on his farm when the angel called him to lead. He was in the middle of his normal life, his routine, his comfort zone, his skill set. Genuine faith means having a heart that is willing to obey God even when it scares us or doesn’t make sense. It also may mean leaving something else behind. Generally when God has opened a door for me to do something big, it has required me to turn away from other things that are more comfortable for me to live in.
3. Quality verses Quantity.
The faith of a mustard seed may be more authentic than someone’s loud and proud, works-based faith. Gideon had doubts, and his faith wasn’t necessarily overwhelming and overflowing, but it was pure. We aren’t going to do outreach to show off and do something “good.” It’s the small, silent, genuine faith deep inside of us that counts. Our hearts. Our motives. Our intentions. It’s okay to feel scared or inadequate. Even the tiniest bit of faith has brought you here, right to this moment.
Genuine faith means being our true selves…owning who God says we are. Our faith will not be authentic if we aren’t secure in our identity. We have to know and believe in who God says we are. When we do this, our faith will be real and strengthened. We will also be able to help these women understand their true identity. In order to be used by God and impact others, it starts with us.
Gideon didn’t demonstrate genuine faith through perfection, but through authenticity and willingness. I think God wants to give us opportunities to let him be God to us…that’s what trials can become. Just as God downsized the army from 30,000 to 300, there were moments in last night’s outreach where in our genuine faith and human nature, doubt and fear would creep in. Some of the group wasn’t able to make it, and our “army” was downsized. We may have felt a fear of being unable to get into some clubs, but genuine faith meant believing God is with us and that He will make a way. And He did.
Authentic identities. Pure motives. Real love. True intentions. All fueled by God. THIS is genuine faith.
“Faith is not believing in my own unshakable belief. Faith is believing an unshakable God when everything in me trembles and quakes.”