“So Zebah and Zalmunna said, ‘Rise yourself, and kill us; for as a man is, so is his strength.’ . . .”
We live in an interesting time, when big philosophical ideas are compressed into quaint little sayings and scattered across social media. We are bombarded with these phrases that often express a worldview diametrically opposed to the teaching of Scripture.
We hear things like “follow your heart,” “yolo,” or some of us might remember “he who dies with the most toys wins.” These phrases become popular, and in some cases, even become the mantra by which people live their lives.
This is not a new phenomenon, this has been going on for thousands and thousands of years, and one such case is recorded here, in the book of Judges. As Gideon stood before the enemies of Israel, he was exhorted by some of the people with a quaint saying that would probably find its way, today, into most of our Facebook feeds. They said “as a man is so is his strength.” It would’ve been a good idea for Gideon and those around him to examine that statement to see what it was really saying, and to see it in light of what the Bible teaches. Had they done so, they would have realized, their philosophy was actually teaching that all the strength we ever need will be found within ourselves. A worldview that is clearly developed by avoiding reality. In fact, Israel had spent years oppressed by the Midianites because they had no strength in themselves to withstand the vast armies of their enemies.
Regardless of the realities of life, there are many who hold that same view today. I recently came across this phrase on social media, “The task at hand is never greater than the strength within.” While this phrase, and others like it, might excite the emotions and stir us to action, they are simply untrue. If followed, they will even cause us to miss out on the true source of real strength; the Lord. There are plenty of tasks that are stronger than us individually, and there are plenty of tasks that are stronger than us collectively. There are things we will face in life which simply cannot be accomplished in the strength of man. We need to learn to lean upon the strength of the Lord. When I think I am strong enough on my own, I will neglect to seek the Lord for the strength, or I will try and fail, only to realize how weak I actually am. After a handful of attempts, that prove to be failures, it won’t be long before I will neglect to venture out, because I realize my own weakness. On the other hand, if I realize my weakness and learn to trust in the strength of the Lord, then there is no task, no matter how great or seemingly impossible, that cannot be accomplished in the strength of the Lord. The Bible is filled with examples of people doing what they could never do on their own, because they trusted in the power of God.
Instead of clinging to things like, “as a man is so also is a strength,” I should cling to promises like, “man’s weakness doesn’t weaken God” or “my inabilities will never limit the ability of God.”
Perhaps we can learn even more from the statement that was made to Gideon. What if we learned to take any quote or phrase that represents an ideology and examine it? First, we could dissect it to see what it is really saying. Then we could examine what the Bible says about the statement. Finally, we could counteract the statement with truths from Scripture that encourage us to live right and glorify the Lord. As you listen to music, watch TV, or peruse social media, keep a careful eye out for what is the truth behind the quotes, and always examine them in light of the teachings of the Word.