It seems to be a universally accepted belief that we all should have self-confidence. But Paul wrote to the Philippians that we who are believers, who glory in Christ Jesus, should put no confidence in the flesh. He went on to list all the reasons he could put confidence in himself: he was from the right family, had the best education, had demonstrated great zeal and abided by the law flawlessly (Philippians 3:4-6).
But he said, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Philippians 3:8-9).
Why is self-confidence a great spiritual danger? Because it erodes our faith and trust in Christ alone. Any time we start thinking that we can do something on our own or feeling as though we’ve achieved some position by our own efforts; any time we are confident about ourselves or our abilities, we are in a dangerous spot. That’s when we think we are standing firm, but instead we are most likely to fall.
I’ve noticed over the years that when a big event is coming up, a speaking engagement, a retreat, or whatever, usually the week before God has a way of reminding me that if I think I can do this on my own, I’d better think again. I’ll do something really stupid, or forget some detail, or get angry at someone and say something I shouldn’t—something like that. And I’ve decided it’s God’s way of whispering in my ear, “Don’t let your self-confidence become your Achilles heel; place no confidence in yourself. Remember, I use weak and foolish things of this world.”
Self-confidence is a great danger, but God-confidence is powerful. I’m confident he loves me and always will. I’m confident I can go to his throne with boldness at any time and he hears me. I’m confident that because of Jesus I have eternal life with God. And I’m confident I can do all that God wants me to do through Christ who gives me strength. That’s not self-confidence; that’s God-confidence.