We live in a “broadcast yourself,” “hear me roar” kind of culture. It’s what confident people do. To do otherwise is to live timidly. And whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, no one wants to be known as timid.
But how does this view of confidence square with humility? Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, every follower of Jesus knows that humility is essential. We want and need to be known as humble. Is humility the opposite of confidence?
As we wrapped up our series in 1 John last week, chapter 5 gave me a new set of lenses to see this question. 1 John 5 exudes confidence. It uses words like “belief, confidence, assurance, overcome, victory, faith” all within the same few sentences. These are the kind of words you’d expect to hear when someone accepts a Grammy or an Oscar!
And there’s the rub. Most Christ-followers I know don’t want to espouse the “believe in yourself” mantra of a pop star or actor! It echoes with a ring of arrogance. So what’s the difference between arrogance and confidence? 1 John 5 has answers.
Interwoven in the Apostle John’s bold declaration that we have “assurance, victory and belief” is the word, “know.” In fact, he uses “know” 36 times in this short letter, 8 of those in chapter 5 alone. Know means confidence. There’s no doubt, John wants us to live with spiritual confidence:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God…” (1 John 5:13-14a NIV)
What’s the difference between arrogance and confidence? The difference is found in the source!
Arrogance is rooted in self.
Confidence is rooted in Christ.
Arrogance says, “Believe in yourself; trust in your ability.” Confidence says, “Believe in Jesus; trust in what He has done on your behalf.” Spiritual arrogance is proud. Spiritual confidence is humble. That’s why humility is essential to living a spiritually confident life. It’s rooted in who Jesus is and what He has done — is doing — will do for us.
The Bible’s teaching is counter-intuitive to our natural way of thinking. Spiritual daughters and sons who are confident in their relationship with their Heavenly Father are humble enough to look long and often at their Savior. Ironically, God’s children who continually look at their own spiritual qualifications and ability to measure up (a form of pride), live with doubt and insecurity in their relationship with God.
The Father wants His children to live with an assurance of His love and a security in our life with Him. He wants us to live as confidently in our relationship with Him as we would want our own children to live in their relationship with us. (Even more so!) Humility is essential to this kind of confident living.
As we enter Advent season this week, our eyes are directed to the source of true humility—the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Look long and often at Him and His sacrifice for you. Let it birth humility in your heart and mind.
And let humility produce in you what 1 John promises it will produce—genuine confidence!
Mark Schatzman is the Congregational Leader and Teaching Pastor at Mosaic.