For those around my age and older, I think we’ve always equated being American to being self-confident. Perhaps it is arrogance, and it is undoubtedly sinful pride, but the fact remains. I’ve heard it expressed by those I know from other countries and if you watch people at all, I think you’ll agree with me. This may be true on a superficial level and I admit it is an over-generalization, but on the flip side, there can be no doubt that in the confines of their minds, many desperately struggle with their self-confidence.
Search Amazon for books on self-confidence, and you’ll find over 20,000 selections to choose from. Plug the term “self-confidence” into a search engine and it will return over 50 million results. Regardless of how we feel about ourselves, it seems clear we are a nation obsessed with being self-confident.
As followers of Jesus, we shouldn’t be concerned with being self-confident. In fact, the opposite is true. Listen to the prominent pastor and theologian Martyn Lloyd Jones: “The first great characteristic of us as Christian people, is that we are no longer self-confident. We know the truth about ourselves.” Self-confidence is often a charade. It is a shield we put up to prevent being hurt by others. It’s a defense mechanism to deflect both insults and injuries. We all want to be seen as self-confident. But why? Again, I think it comes back to the sin of pride. We want to be seen as self-sufficient, capable of handling whatever the world might throw our way. But it’s a massive lie, and we all know it.
When we’re done fronting, each of us must acknowledge what we truly are. We are nothing, created from dust, and returning to it when we die. A life of despair and meaninglessness awaits us without Christ. We can do nothing outside of Jesus (John 15:4-8), and we can boast in nothing except Him (1 Corinthians 1:28-31); (2 Corinthians 10:17). Each of us knows how weak we are, and we know there is nothing within our control. Any attempts to prove otherwise are pretenses meant to convince ourselves we aren’t dependent on our Creator. It’s all vanity because the truth will always come out in the end.
Self-confidence has no place in the life of a disciple of Jesus. Those who daily pick up a cross know there is no way we can walk another step without His mercy, grace, and power. We are nothing, and Jesus is everything. When we confess Him as Lord, we assume the role of a slave, having no power or rights of our own. All we have and all we do is the result of the generosity and empowerment of Jesus.
So, put away all thoughts of self-confidence. Who do we think we are, and more importantly, who are we compared to Christ? We find our confidence in Jesus, not in ourselves. We are weak and powerless. He is strong, and all power resides in Him. It’s not shameful to put away your self-confidence. It’s what it means to surrender to God. We admit we are nothing without Him and beg Him to take over. When Jesus dwells inside us, we come to understand how ridiculous self-confidence is. It is through Jesus we move and breathe. Our confidence is in Him because He alone can save and deliver our souls.