And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” (Judges 7:2, NKJV)
Lesson one: Don’t take the glory for what you do. The Hebrew word for glory in this passage means to gleam, to embellish; figuratively to boast or vaunt self. Self is not to be built up ever. God does the work and He gets the credit. This word is translated boast in Isaiah 10:15. It is also used in the positive sense in which God will beautify the humble (Psalm 149:4). The poor in spirit recognizes the fact that the Lord will do any boasting in His own creation.
The men of Ephraim said to him, “Why have you done this to us, not calling us when you went to fight against the Midianites?” And they argued with him violently.
So he said to them, “What have I have done now compared to you? Is not the gleaning of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God handed over to you Oreb and Zeeb, the two princes of Midian. What was I able to do compared to you? When he said this, their anger against him subsided. (Judges 8:1-3, HCSB)
When you step out and do God’s will and you meet success you will often see opposition to arise from fellow Believers.
Lesson two: When confronted for your works for the Lord don’t take any credit and subsequently encourage others. We have been showing that the poor in spirit are humble in all they do, but Gideon shows that they are to also be encouragers and edifiers. (See Romans 15:2; 1 Corinthians 14:12, 26; 2 Corinthians 12:19; Ephesians 4:29; 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; and Acts 4:36 and 15:31).
Then Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you as well as your sons and your grandsons, for you delivered us from the power of Midian.”
But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you.” (Judges 8:22-23, HCSB)
Lesson three: when asked to take the role of God say no. The LORD was to be the ruler of Israel and not Gideon. Gideon had a role to play and he played it. The poor in spirit embrace their call and never go beyond it. If people want to build you up, step back and squash it by giving the glory to God and reject any promotions beyond your call (Joshua 7:19; 1 Chronicles 16:28-29; Psalm 29:2, 9 and 96:7-7; and Isaiah 48:1).
Then he said to them, “Let me make a request of you: Everyone give me an earring from his plunder.” Now the enemy had golden earrings because they were Ishmaelites.
Gideon made an ephod from all this and put it up in Ophrah, his hometown. Then all Israel prostituted themselves with it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his household. (Judges 8:24, 27, HCSB)
Lesson four: finish well. I often hear that life is a marathon so finish well – that is so true. Gideon did not finish well like so many people in the Bible. Why did he go off path? The simple answer is that he did not seek the guidance of the LORD in this venture. It appears that he meant to make an offering to God, but he went about this the wrong way, became complacent, and did it his way. At a minimum he should have dropped this project as soon as the eyes of the people went from the LORD to the work of man’s hands. Continue the path you are placed on. If you get off the road God will get you back on it if you continue to seek Him and be submissive to the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 12:1-2; John 4:34; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 2:10 and 4:12; and James 1:4).
Learn from the examples in the Bible, good and bad, and to finish well. Read the passages at the end of Lessons Two, Three, and Four.
Prayerfully meditate upon the following Scriptures and apply them to your life: Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; and Acts 17:11