by David Sisler
Confidence is a strange thing. One minute we have enormous amounts of it, and the next minute we are totally lacking in confidence. One minute you feel absolutely on top of everything, and the next minute you are certain that you will be crushed by the weight of your life.
You place your confidence where you are sure it will be honored, only to have that confidence shattered. And then from the most unlikely sources, your confidence is restored. Why is life like that?
I asked a 50 year old man who is a citizen of the former Soviet Union, "Where is your confidence?"
"I have no confidence in anything," he said. "All of my life I have lived under the communist government. I knew that every part of my life would be provided for. Now that is all gone."
"Would you like to see Communism restored?" I asked.
"Yes, I would," he replied.
"Even with all of the injustices, even with the total lack of freedom, even with your life subject to the whim of tyrannical rulers?"
"So I could once again be confident."
Matthew was a man who would have understood the dilemma of confidence that comes from trusting the familiar, even if it was a familiarity which caused you pain.
Matthew was a man who was sure of his values. Like many people all over the world, he rated money as the number one thing in his value system. Confident that money would do for him everything he could possibly imagine, he became a traitor to his nation. Placing his confidence in his own value system, he, a Jew, became a tax collector for Rome, the nation that had conquered Israel.
That confidence meant that he would be hated by his own people. It meant that he would be excommunicated from the religion of his birth. His confidence meant that he would have to put aside the moral system in which he had been raised and become a thief. It meant that his only friends would be societies' outcasts -- other tax collector and prostitutes.
Then one day, like that 50 year old Russian, his system of confidence collapsed.
Jesus stopped at Matthew's tax collecting booth. Jesus did not come to pay his taxes. He did not come to plead for mercy for someone, a widow or an orphan, who was unable to pay, although from what we know about Jesus, it is easy to believe that he would have done that frequently.
No, Jesus stopped at Matthew's place of business to give Matthew new confidence. With just two words -- "Follow me" -- Matthew's confidence changed.
Can you imagine his dilemma? It is the dilemma of the man who said, "I want Communism to be reinstated as the government of my nation, because that familiarity gave me confidence."
Matthew had been confident in the system. He had been confident in his ability to make money. Now a new demand was being placed on his confidence.
"Give up everything you know, Matthew. Give it all up and follow me," he said. And Matthew did.
With following Jesus the goal which now directed Matthew's life, do you suppose Matthew had new confidence? Of course he did. But was that confidence in Matthew or in Jesus? If that confidence was in Matthew, do you think he would ever again be disappointed? I am sure he would be. But if that confidence was in Jesus, do you suppose that even with disappointments, he could be thankful because of confidence in his new Lord?
If at this moment, you honestly say, "There is no thanksgiving in my life?" is that because your confidence is in Jesus or in yourself? If your confidence is in yourself, it is time you found a new confidence -- a confidence that comes only from following Jesus, a confidence which produces eternal thanksgiving.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 11/26/94
Copyright 1994 by David Sisler
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