Introduction: Judges chapter 8 describes the events that followed God’s defeat of 135,000 Midianite troops with only 300 soldiers. He used a man named Gideon, who came from an ignoble background, to accomplish this amazing miracle. Gideon showed great faith in trusting God to face a fierce enemy with a ratio of 450 to 1 against him. Yet, in leading the troops to battle, he felt pride knowing that God had chosen him to lead the troops. Thus, he instructed the troops to give a battle cry that included both God and him: “When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets all around the camp and say, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’” (Jdgs. 7:18). The 300 men then shouted out his name immediately after God’s name: “When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and cried, ‘A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!’” (Jdgs. 7:20). This only fueled the pride that was growing inside Gideon. This pride ultimately led Gideon into a sad descent into sin following the battle. From Gideon’s prideful mistakes, God reveals seven lessons regarding the dangers of pride.
First, from the jealousy that both Ephraim and Gideon felt toward one another as a result of their privileged positions, God reveals that jealousy is one of the many evil sins that stem from pride. Pride in any form will defile you and put you in communion with Satan. Second, from the anger that Gideon had toward the people of Succoth for their refusal to help while pursuing the enemy, He reveals that pride can also lead to anger. Third, from Gideon’s failure to consult with God before attacking the Midianites, He reveals that pride can lead to self-reliance and the failure to communicate with Him in prayer. Fourth, from Gideon’s retaliation against the people of Succoth, He reveals that pride can lead to a lack of forgiveness and vengeance. Fifth, from Gideon’s desire to enrich himself with plunder following God’s victory over the Midianites, He reveals that pride can lead to covetousness. Sixth, from Gideon’s decision to build a harem, He reveals that pride can also lead to lusts of the flesh. Finally, from Gideon’s poor example and the Jews’ return to idolatry, He reveals that pride can lead to the failure to honor God in your life.
The pride of Ephraim and Gideon. Following the victory over the Midianites, the tribe of Ephraim confronted Gideon over his failure to include them in the initial battle. They were jealous because they wanted the honor of helping to defeat the enemy. He in turn was jealous at their tribe’s favored status over his own: “1 Then the men of Ephraim said to him, ‘What is this thing you have done to us, not calling us when you went to fight against Midian?’ And they contended with him vigorously. 2 But he said to them, “What have I done now in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 God has given the leaders of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb into your hands; and what was I able to do in comparison with you?’ Then their anger toward him subsided when he said that.” (Jdgs. 8:1-3). Just before his death, Jacob issued a blessing that switched the birth order of Joseph’s children: “Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.” (Gen. 48:13, 17-20; 41:50-51; Nu. 13:8, 16). This, however, created jealousy amongst the tribe of Manasseh and pride in the tribe of Ephraim. As a result of its sins, the fighting men of Ephraim shrank from 40,500 fighting men (Nu. 1:33) to 32,500 (Nu. 26:37) in the wilderness, a decrease of 19.75%. Joshua, a hero of the faith and the successor to Moses, was a member of the Ephraim tribe (Nu. 13:8; 14:6-9). This tribe also guarded the ark in its territory (Josh. 18:1). These facts led to its pride. They ignored God’s Law that they not make peace with the Canaanites (e.g., Ex. 23:32; Dt. 7:2; 19:13). Instead of driving them out of the Promised Land, the tribe of Ephraim used the Canaanites as slave labor (Josh. 16:10). After Solomon’s death when the Kingdom of Israel separated into two, Ephraim was the dominant power in the north. Yet, the tribe of Ephraim was later condemned for its pride (Jdgs. 12:1). It was then condemned for apostasy (Hosea 4:17; 5:3). Its pride led to its decline (Prov. 16:18). Gideon was a member of the tribe of Manasseh, the brother tribe of Ephraim through Joseph. He was also a member of the lowly clan of Abiezer (Jdgs. 6:11). Out of pride and jealousy, he refused to invite Ephraim to the initial battle. Out of pride and jealousy, the tribe of Ephraim believed that it should have been leading the battle. Out of contempt, Gideon then appealed to Ephraim’s pride and the lowly status of his clan to manipulate them: “Let the lying lips be mute, which speak arrogantly against the righteous with pride and contempt.” (Ps. 31:18). Like Gideon or Ephraim, are you jealous of another’s status or your failure to be included in something? If so, repent of the pride that is driving those feelings. This pride will put you in communion with Satan.
Satan is the father of pride, jealousy, and deceit. Pride is an inflated view of yourself. Pride can also cause you to covet power or prestige and rebel (Isa. 1:23). Satan was blessed with great beauty as one of God’s angels. Yet, his pride caused him to be jealous of and covet God’s power (Is. 14:12-15). Pride puts you in communion with the father of the world, not your Father in heaven: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 Jo. 2:16). Jesus also reveals that pride is one of the sins that will defile a person: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” (Mk. 7:21-23). Pride caused Miriam to become defiled like a leper in God’s eyes (Nu. 12:10; Dt. 24:9). Like Miriam, King Uzziah also turned into a leper when, out of pride and coveting, he tried to take on the dual role of the King and High Priest, which God had separated (2 Chron. 26:19-21). You are to be an imitator of Christ, not Satan (1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Cor. 11:1). Is there pride in your heart?
Fearing God in part comes from “hating” pride. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Ps. 111:10). The fear of the Lord is defined as “hating” evil, which includes pride: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.” (Prov. 8:13; Ps. 97:10). If you have pride in yourself, ask Jesus to humble and cleanse your heart of this sin.
Gideon’s anger at the leaders of Succoth for being cowards. While chasing after the surviving Midianite army, Gideon became enraged and threatened retaliation against a Jewish town that refused to help him out of fear of the Midianites: “4 Then Gideon and the 300 men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over, weary yet pursuing. 5 He said to the men of Succoth, ‘Please give loaves of bread to the people who are following me, for they are weary, and I am pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.’ 6 The leaders of Succoth said, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hands, that we should give bread to your army?’ 7 Gideon said, ‘All right, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will thrash your bodies with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.’ 8 He went up from there to Penuel and spoke similarly to them; and the men of Penuel answered him just as the men of Succoth had answered. 9 So he spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, ‘When I return safely, I will tear down this tower.’” (Jdgs. 8:4-9). Succoth was part of the territory of Gad, in the Jordan Valley to the north of the territory of Reuben and to the south of the half tribe of Manasseh (Josh. 13:24-28). Along with the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad pleaded with Moses: “do not take us across the Jordan.” (Nu. 32:5). The tribes of Reuben and Gad gave up their right to claim land that God had promised within Israel: “For we will not have an inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has fallen to us on this side of the Jordan toward the east.” (Nu. 32:19). They symbolized the person who hears the Good News of Christ but still longs for the things of the world over His Kingdom. Jesus warns that these people are not fit for His Kingdom (Lk. 9:62). The leaders of Succoth therefore felt little connection to the plight of Israel. They saw Gideon’s army of 300 men and lacked faith that they could repeat their success in defeating the Midianites. Thus, they refused to swear any allegiance until Gideon defeated them. Gideon viewed their refusal to help as an act of treason. Because he was no longer walking with God, he exploded in anger.
Anger, hatred, and even name calling is murder in God’s eyes. Satan was the first to sow the seeds of hatred within mankind (Ez. 28:14-16). Whoever murders or even hates another is under Satan’s influence and is guilty of murder in God’s eyes: “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matt. 5:21-22). “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” (1 Jo. 3:15). Like Gideon, have you allowed yourself to become angry or hate another person? If so, repent of your anger and forgive those who have offended you.
Gideon’s failure to seek God’s guidance before attacking the leaders of Midian. Unlike his first battle against the Midianites, Gideon did not bother to consult with God before attacking. His pride led him to believe that he could do it on his own: “10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their armies with them, about 15,000 men, all who were left of the entire army of the sons of the east; for the fallen were 120,000 swordsmen. 11 Gideon went up by the way of those who lived in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the camp when the camp was unsuspecting. 12 When Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued them and captured the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and routed the whole army.” (Jdgs. 8:10-12). Here, God reveals that He used only 300 men to defeat 135,000 Midianites. The same 300 men then defeated an equally impressive number of 15,000. Gideon could not have prevailed without God in either battle. Yet, if Gideon was not walking with God and failed to seek His guidance, why would God assist him? The answer is that God was delivering the Jews despite Gideon, not because of Him. He is faithful even when we are not (2 Tim. 2:13).
Humble yourself and seek God’s guidance in all your major decisions. Unlike Gideon, you are called upon to submit yourself to God and seek His guidance in all that you do. “[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14; Dt. 4:1; 7:1). “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (Jam. 4:10). “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.” (Lk. 1:52). When you submit yourself and pray, His Holy Spirit and Word will be a light unto your path (Jo. 14:26; Ps. 119:105). Are you seeking His guidance in all your major decisions?
Gideon’s retaliation against the citizens of Succoth. After defeating the remaining Midianites, Gideon then retaliated against the Jewish citizens of Succoth by destroying it and killing every man in the city: “13 Then Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle by the ascent of Heres. 14 And he captured a youth from Succoth and questioned him. Then the youth wrote down for him the princes of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men. 15 He came to the men of Succoth and said, ‘Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?’’ 16 He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and he disciplined the men of Succoth with them. 17 He tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city.” (Jdgs. 8:13-17). Gideon felt that he had the right to retaliate against the people of Succoth. He first publicly flogged the leaders with whips made of thorns and biers. Then, unsatisfied with this torture, he killed both the leaders and every man in the city. His murderous rage was not of God. His actions were influenced by the devil to discredit God. Vengeance belongs to God alone (Dt. 32:35; Ps. 94:1-2, 16, 23; Ro. 12:17, 19; Heb. 10:30). ‘“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.’” (Lev. 19:18). Even if the people of Succoth had committed treason, it was not for Gideon to act as judge and jury against them. His actions amounted to murder. His actions also violated the Sixth Commandment (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17). The murder of innocent people is also one of the six things that God “hates”: “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” (Prov. 6:16-19). If others have wronged you, have you retaliated or have you forgiven them?
Gideon pursuit of the Midianites1
Gideon’s retaliation against the Midianite leaders. After killing his own Jewish brothers, Gideon then confronted the two captured Midianite leaders for their killing of his kin at a place called Tabor. As part of a personal vendetta, he then killed these two leaders: “18 Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, ‘What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor?’ And they said, ‘They were like you, each one resembling the son of a king.’ 19 He said, ‘They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the Lord lives, if only you had let them live, I would not kill you.’ 20 So he said to Jether his firstborn, ‘Rise, kill them.’ But the youth did not draw his sword, for he was afraid, because he was still a youth. 21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, ‘Rise up yourself, and fall on us; for as the man, so is his strength.’ So Gideon arose and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescent ornaments which were on their camels’ necks.” (Jdgs. 8:18-21). Although Gideon started off acting as God’s instrument for delivering the Jews, by now he had become motivated by a personal vendetta. His words suggested that he would not have killed these two leaders if they had not killed his kin. Even his own son refused to follow Gideon’s instructions. Moreover, by taking the pagan “crescent ornaments” off the enemy leaders’ camels, Gideon was also claiming title to their royal power. Through all these things, he became no better than the people he sought to defeat: “Since Gideon launched his pursuit of Zebah and Zalmunna in 8:4, his actions followed the typical pattern of oriental kings: (1) he treated his subjects / countrymen ruthlessly (vv. 5-9, 13-17); (2) his actions were driven by a personal agenda rather than theological or national ideals; (3) he reacted to the death of his brothers as if they were royal assassinations requiring blood vengeance; (4) he made ridiculous demands on his people (v. 20); (5) he claimed for himself the symbols of royalty taken from the enemy.” (Daniel Block, The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, Judges, Ruth, Vol. 6, B & H Publishing Group 1999 p. 299). As the leader of God’s people, Gideon profaned His holy name. His actions provide a warning to all believers.
Let your actions be a light to all, even your enemies. The Jews were meant to be a light to the nations (Is. 42:6). You too are called to be a light to others (Matt. 5:14). You show this light by showing love to all, even your enemies: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt. 5:44; Lk. 6:27-28). “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jo. 13:34). “And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 Jo. 4:21). You may be the only Bible that a non-believer reads. Is your life a light to all, even to your enemies?
The nation’s misguided desire for Gideon to be king. Because the Jews had lost their way, they showed no concern for the murder in Succoth. Instead, they sought to make Gideon their king: “22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, ‘Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.’ 23 But Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.’” (Jdgs. 8:22-23). God warned that He alone would select the king of Israel: “14 When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen . . . .” (Dt. 17:14-15). Although Gideon’s statements were theologically correct, he never explained to the people that God was responsible for their victory. Nor did he reject the instruments of power that he had seized. “As already suggested, coming after this series of events, it appears that the Israelite offer of kingship to Gideon simply seeks to formalize de jure what is already de facto.” (Block at 299). Gideon’s next statements revealed that his motives with the people were less than pure. “Though Gideon said he didn’t want to be a king, in the rest of the chapter he acted like one. His words were humble but his actions were not. It is easier to talk about humility and service to God than it is to actually live it.” (David Guzik on Judges chapter 8).2
Gideon becomes filled with pride3
Gideon’s desire to enrich himself following God’s victory. After making a flippant reference to God as the Jews’ only true king, Gideon immediately asked for money to enrich himself following God’s victory over the Midianites: “ 24 Yet Gideon said to them, ‘I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil.’ (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) 25 They said, ‘We will surely give them.’ So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil. 26 The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels’ necks.” (Jdgs. 8:24-26). At .4046 ounces or 11.33 grams per shekel, Gideon received 43 pounds of gold. If he had become king, Gideon could not have used his position of power to enrich himself (Dt. 17:17). His refusal to become the official king may have been calculated to skirt this rule. Yet, Jesus made clear that any soldier, regardless of his formal position, should never use his power to enrich himself: “‘Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.’” (Lk. 3:14).
Gideon’s greed led to a desire to have people bow before him. Gideon’s greed could not be satisfied with money. Eventually, he wanted the people to bow before him as a pseudo-king: “27 Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.” (Jdgs. 8:27). This was most likely another act of jealousy toward the people of Ephraim. Gideon did not like the fact that people went to their territory to worship at the Tabernacle. His choice of an ephod was not an accident. In the Bible, an ephod was meant to be a holy covering over the chest of the High Priest (Lev. 8:7; Ex. 28:4). It had 12 precious stones worn over the priest’s heart (Lev. 8:8; Ex. 28:15-20). The 12 stones represented the 12 tribes of Israel (Ex. 28:21). The purpose of the ephod was to remind the High Priest to love God’s people. Here, Gideon had perverted the ephod to have the people come and bow before him and his idols. Instead of a breast plate that showed his love for the people, it was designed to have the people show their love for him. Yet, the pleasures Satan offers to the person who gives into covetousness never last long (Heb. 11:25; Lk. 12:19-20). The coveting that the devil offers can only be satisfied through more coveting. “Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man, so that he does not stay at home. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied. He also gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoples.” (Hab. 2:5). The greed or coveting of money can also never be satisfied with more money. “And the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.” (Is. 56:11). “Sheol, and the barren womb, earth that is never satisfied with water, and fire that never says, ‘Enough’.” (Prov. 30:16). Gideon’s desire for the people’s affection as a quasi-king was the next step in his descent into sin. If you have given into coveting, don’t be surprised if you soon crave something more that you will not be able to control.
Don’t let your God-given success cause you to become prideful
God’s testing of the nation of Israel. As He had done previously, God tested the Jews after delivering them with 40 years of peace. Yet, as they had done previously, they failed His test: “28 So Midian was subdued before the sons of Israel, and they did not lift up their heads anymore. And the land was undisturbed for forty years in the days of Gideon.” (Jdgs. 8:28). In the Bible, the number 40 is associated with testing. After Deborah and Barak’s victory over the Canaanites, God also granted the Jews 40 years of peace (Jdgs. 5:31). The two 40-year periods of peace were tests to determine if the Jews would return to their evil ways. Unfortunately, they failed that test. God cannot tempt you (Jam. 1:13-14). Yet, He tests you to show you where your heart is evil: “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, . . .” (Dt. 8:2; Jer. 17:10; 20:12; Ps. 11:5). His testing is done out of love (Heb. 12:6). When you are tested, you frequently find that your heart is wicked. At that point, He wants you to repent (Jer. 17:9). When He has shown you evil in your heart through times of testing, have you repented of your sins?
Gideon’s desire to have a harem. Ultimately, his greed for money and public adoration was not enough to satisfy Gideon’s pride. When he longed for something more, Gideon’s pride also fueled the lusts of his flesh and his desire to have multiple wives: “29 Then Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house. 30 Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives. 31 His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. 32 And Gideon the son of Joash died at a ripe old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” (Jdgs. 8:29-32). If Gideon had become king, he would have been prohibited from having more than one wife. Regarding a king, Moses decreed: “He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.” (Dt. 17:17). Acting as the de facto king allowed him to also skirt this rule. Like pride, “the lust of the flesh . .. is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 Jo. 2:16). These lusts include “immorality, impurity, sensuality.” (Gal. 5:24). If anyone loves these “things of the world,” “the love for the Father is not in him.” (1 Jo. 2:15). Gideon’s lust resulted in disaster for Israel. His son Abimelech would seek to rule Israel through evil. His name meant “My father, a king.” This suggests that Gideon desired to rule as king, despite his protests to the contrary.
Having more than one wife results in only misery and sorrow. Some claim that the Bible endorses multiple wives because people like Gideon had multiple wives. In fact, the Bible shows that the decision of each person in the Bible to have multiple concurrent wives resulted in strife and misery. For example, Abram’s decision to sleep with Sarai’s servant Hagar created jealousy and conflict with his wife (Gen. 16:4-5). It also resulted in the modern day Arab Israeli conflict (Gen. 16:12). Because of his sins, he also had to wait 13 years before God spoke with him again. When you openly sin, your prayers will be “hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7; Jo. 9:31; Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:9; Isa. 1:15). Abraham’s later wives all led to nations of people who would fight with the Jews. The Midianites were just one example. Likewise, Jacob’s marriage to Rachel and Leah caused jealousy between the wives. Jealousy was one of the fruits of this unholy union. While Leah had children, Rachel’s jealousy drove her to feel that she would die unless she had a child (Gen. 30:1). Jealousy eventually drove Rachel to have her husband Jacob sleep with her servant Bilhah (Gen. 30:1-6). Jealousy in turn drove Leah to have Jacob sleep with her servant Zilpah to increase the number of her kids. She did this even though she already had four sons and she had only had one year after their marriage without a pregnancy (Gen. 30:9-10). Leah’s children’s jealousy over Jacob’s love for Rachel’s children later also drove Reuben to defile Rachel’s maid servant Bilhah (Gen. 35:22). The consequence for Reuben’s actions was that he and his future generations lost their firstborn status (Gen. 49:3-4). Jealousy later drove ten boys to sell Joseph into slavery because he was one of two sons that Jacob loved more (Gen. 37:18-36). David also suffered when his lust took control of him. When he first saw Bathsheba, he lusted after her (2 Sam. 11:2). His secret lust later led him to commit adultery with her (2 Sam. 11:4). When David’s adultery led to Bathsheba’ pregnancy and he could not convince her husband to be with her, he later committed murder to try cover his tracks (2 Sam. 11:14-17). David also became numb to his sin. He was not remorseful about sending Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to his death until God confronted him. David’s health suffered (Ps. 38:3, 18). His descendants also fought with him and each other after his adultery. Even Solomon, the wisest man alive and the author of most of the proverbs, loved the women of the world around him. He gave into the lusts of the flesh and strayed from God by taking 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kgs. 11:1-8). His wives then turned him from God (1 Kgs. 11:4). Thus, through these many lessons, the New Testament is clear that a man should have only one wife (Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Tim. 3:2).
Israel’s return to idolatry. After being led astray by their deliverer Gideon, the Jews followed after his example in failing to glorify God for their freedoms. Instead, they used their God-given freedoms to return to idolatry: “33 Then it came about, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the sons of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god. 34 Thus the sons of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; 35 nor did they show kindness to the household of Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) in accord with all the good that he had done to Israel.” (Jdgs. 8:33-35). This was a familiar pattern in Israel. Like Gideon, the Jews were too filled with pride to submit to God alone. Instead, they used their freedom to pursue after the idols that God had freed them from (Jdgs. 2:16-19).
Don’t take pride in what God has done in your life. Gideon’s pride and his slow descent into sin began with his attempt to share in the credit of his victory with God. Yet, God alone was responsible for their victory. Like Gideon, most people feel the need to take credit for their success. Yet, every good and perfect thing that you have also comes from God (Jam. 1:17). Your acts of righteousness are but filthy rags before Him (Is. 64:6). All have sinned before God (Rom. 3:23; 1 Pet. 2:22; Ps. 14:3). God wants to use you to help deliver others by directing them to Christ. Yet, He cannot use you if you are filled with pride: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, but humility goes before honor.” (Prov. 18:12). “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.” (Prov. 11:2). “A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Prov. 29:23). Do you give credit to God when things go well in your life? Or, like Gideon, do you try to share in the credit?
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