Confidence leads to Conduct
Be confident in yourself—we hear this phrase regularly. Simply google “be confident” and you will find some pretty good advice, like this.
As I read those types of articles and consider their advice, I find much of it good. Yet the center of it all is ME—and that makes this me the opposite of confident.
At the bottom of all this advice is the belief that being confident requires we somehow screw ourselves up and be super reliant on all we intrinsically possess and extrinsically accomplish. I hear the Mighty mouse theme music in the background (sorry for slipping into sarcasm).
What has my mind going in this direction? Quite simply the confident attitude of a person in prison—Paul. Listen again to what we read today.
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always…
Phrases such as “I rejoice” and “for I know” and “I will not be ashamed” and “with full courage” jump out at me.
Joy and even courage are marks of Paul’s attitude and conduct. Which makes me ask, “Where does he get this confidence from?”
The answer is from “the Spirit of Jesus Christ”! Back in verse six Paul wrote that he was confident (there is that word again) that God would bring to completion what he began in each of us, and that includes him.
I began this reflection noting how most advice for all of us to lead confident lives has at its core us as singularly strong individuals. Today we read a letter from a person in jail, and they are in jail because of what has been a large portion of their life’s work. We find that person with joy and confidence—because the core of that confidence is Christ.
Pause for a moment and consider: if you spent your life working for a cause, and found yourself in jail because of it, would you be confident? Perhaps you would be confident in your cause. But would you be confident in your deliverance?
Looking at this man in jail, his situation, and his attitude, has me asking questions.
How are you doing right now with being confident in your life? Is your faith something where you know all the right answers, but it is not penetrating your daily struggles?
Let me answer those questions for me. For me there are days when this failure to penetrate is absolutely true. I allow discouragement to rule. That discouragement then manifests itself in behavior that is the opposite of what followers of Jesus should be known for.
Look, I am just being real with you—I have these kind of days—days which look like I lack confidence.
Yet I, and you, need not lose heart. The world tells me to buckle down and fight through, turning to my inner self. God’s Word says, be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world, and I will never leave you nor forsake you. Those two verses are written in the context of the worries of the world: tribulation in the first, and daily concerns of marriage and money in the second.
Amid our life challenges, God’s Word invites us to be confident in Christ.
The result of being confident in Christ is conduct which becomes a follower of Jesus. Read again verses 27- 30 again:
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
These words thrust us forward to action, a life of confidence, even in the face of suffering.