“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Henry S. Haskins
History is rife with the periodic destruction of accumulated human erudition. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, for instance, much of the Egyptian-Greco-Roman knowledge base was scattered or lost. The great archives at Alexandria were burned, pillaged and destroyed. And then, during the Middle-Ages, when Baghdad was considered a major intellectual center of the ancient world, the Mongols devastated their library. Scholars at the “House of Wisdom” (as it was called) had by then translated vast amounts of salvaged Greek and Roman scholarship into Arabic. This malicious destruction resulted in another major loss of written material. There are many more examples, of course.
Today, I find myself thinking about the profound impact that the world-wide web has had upon the storage and distribution of human knowledge. Some say that the modern information superhighway may even one day rival the great historical repositories of the past – if it survives.
When I was a growing up, a reliable source for quickly referencing trustworthy information on a wide variety of subjects was an encyclopedia. Some of my younger readers just said to themselves “encyclo…what?”
Basically, an encyclopedia was (and still is) a comprehensive collection of texts, photographs, illustrations, etc. This assemblage of knowledge was usually arranged in alphabetized printed volumes. If you wanted to research the Brazilian Amazon Rain Forrest, for example, you simply opened the “A”, “B” or “R” volume of the encyclopedia and referenced that subject. Today, of course, we have electronic versions of these classic works, including certain avant-garde varieties like Wikipedia.
With the advent of the internet and “search engines” it is now possible to explore practically any subject and read a bazillion differing viewpoints on that topic. However, I have found that many of the articles readily available online are filled with unsubstantiated rubbish. In preparing to write this composition on the subject of confidence, I decided to do a “search” of that word. The result? Contradictory information and sometimes laughable recommendations that could easily lead simple readers down the road to overwhelming confusion. The internet data base of “knowledge” seems to span the ridicules to the sublime.
So my friends, I shall now add my thoughts to this tangled electronic web of information. My subject today is CONFIDENCE.
Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. But they also have confidence and that is why they do not let these feelings stop them.” – Unknown
From a secular perspective, Confidence has been described by some as comfortable certainty. From what I have read, if we feel good about ourselves, have an appropriate level of self-esteem and believe in our own proficiencies, we are confident people. Okay. That sounds plausible.
Sometimes, confidence can be misinterpreted for arrogance and visa-versa. But, arrogance usually involves a condescending attitude toward others. Pompous, patronizing, superior, a legend in your own mind? You’re considered arrogant. Certain about the truth of what you know and who you are? That’s called Confidence.
And let’s not forget good old hubris which is typically a personality flaw found mostly in the rich and/or powerful who overestimate their individual capabilities or significance. The hubristic suffer, to some extent, a disconnection from reality; “thinking of themselves more highly than they should”. These folks are generally delusional. Hubris is also known as politician’s disease. Okay, I made that last one up.
A genuinely confident person is neither arrogant nor delusional (full of hubris). Confident people are however – decisive. They will, as the sayings go, put their money where their mouth is because, actions speak louder than words. Confidence can help us to convert our thoughts and ideas into actions in ways that far exceed the superficial of the daily grind.
You must not lose confidence in God because you lost confidence in a minister or religion. If our confidence in God had to depend upon our confidence in any human person or institution we would be standing on shifting sand.” – Francis A Schaeffer
What about spiritual confidence? Now, don’t tune me out. I am a Christian, but I am not that stereotypical Bible thumper with the bad hair and dimples. I don’t sell Jordan River water, Holy Land prayer cloths or any other “Jesus Junk” on my website and I am not asking you for any financial support. Conversely, I have studied the Bible for 35+ years and I do have a PH.D in Theology (although I am not asking you to consider that as anything special either).
In my world view, confidence hinges more upon a deep and abiding faith in someone far greater than me and the inner freedom that comes from a clear conscience than it does on just trusting in myself. What has amazed me as a follower of the Liberator Jesus is not only the profound peace that comes from knowing I am free from any form of inner guilt and shame through my acceptance of His redemptive work, but also the tremendous confidence that I have developed because of the empowering message He came to spread while visiting this lost and slowly dying planet.
Listen to this quote from the Bible’s Newer Testament,
19 “Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 And even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him. 23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us.” (1 John 3:19-23 – New Living Translation)
Let that first line sink in: our actions will reveal if we know the truth. I believe that means our actions do indeed speak louder than words. If we look at “truth” as being absolute – black is indeed black – than to know the truth would certainly help one find confidence. It really is that simple.
Anyone can claim “I believe”. But it will always be our actions that prove the legitimacy of such an assertion. Telling you that I can fly like a bird is meaningless if I won’t prove it by jumping off the roof.
I have so much confidence in the reality of Jesus that I feel no pressure to try to make people act or be a certain way. I’m banking everything on the fact that God actually changes people.” – Erwin McManus
I have put my absolute trust in the supremacy of the Almighty (God) who lives outside of the limitations of this (His) created world. As a result, my faith along with a clear conscience yields a confidence that sustains me in this life and it will carry me into that next dimension (with God) when my mortality has run its course. So again, real confidence is a product of a deep and abiding faith (or trust) in the Creator and a conscience that has been made free from guilt and shame.
Our conscience (which is also known as the voice of our human spirit) acts like a validation filter. It is what keeps us honest before God and with ourselves,
21 “And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God.” (1 John 3:21- AMP)
It is this combination of faith and a clear conscience that produces the genuine confidence we all need. Faith says “God, I know you will keep your word to me and you will fulfill every promises you have ever made concerning me”. In a way, faith in itself is CONFIDENCE. Whenever there is an absence of genuine faith (trust in God) there is also an absence of true confidence.
Turning again to the Bible’s Newer Testament.
18-20 “Timothy my son, I give you the following charge. And may I say, before I give it to you, that it is in full accord with those prophecies made at your ordination which sent you out to battle for the right armed only with your faith and a clear conscience. Some, alas, have laid these simple weapons contemptuously aside (faith and a clear conscience) and, as far as their faith is concerned, have run their ships on the rocks. Hymenaeus and Alexander are men of this sort, and as a matter of fact I had to expel them from the Church to teach them not to blaspheme.” (1 Timothy 1:18-20 – Phillips)
The writer, Paul, was about to give instructions to a Christian Minister named Timothy. But first, he reminded him of his heritage. “You were sent out to do battle on the side of what is right armed only with a clear conscience and your faith”, he told him. Next came this warning: some who have laid aside these simple weapons (faith and a clear conscience) and done so with contempt, end up a shipwreck. Here’s the take away: our confidence in the Almighty will run aground (become a shipwreck) when we fail to listen to the voice of our own human spirit (i.e. our conscience). But, if our heart (our conscience) does not accuse us – in other words, when our conscience is clear – we are full of confidence in both our relationship with the Almighty and in our human existence as we live out each day in accordance with His plan and purpose for our lives. To put it another way; keeping your little life boat afloat requires faith and a clear conscience.
Acquire the habit of speaking to God as if you were alone with Him, familiarly and with confidence and love, as to the dearest and most loving of friends.” – Alphonsus Liguori
Now, here is the best part: when you have placed your absolute trust in that Spirit entity whom we simply refer to as God, and your conscience has been wiped clean of all guilt and shame by Him, prayer is natural and simple. And remember, prayer is nothing more than talking with the one who is able to do extremely and profusely more than we could ever ask of Him or even dream possible. Listen to this:
14-15 “We have such confidence in him that we are certain that he hears every request that is made in accord with his own plan. And since we know that he invariably gives his attention to our prayers, whatever they are about, we can be quite sure that our prayers will be answered.” (1 John 5:14 – Phillips)
That excites me; we can be quite sure that our prayers will be answered as long as they line up with His plan!
Have you had a heart to heart talk with the Divine Spirit today? Have you ever? Forget religion. This is not about the Church, the Mosque, the Synagogue, the Miao, Gong, or Tan. The Liberator Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). His visitation to our planet had but one purpose, “to seek and save that which has been lost” (Luke 19:10). The Creator wants to know you. Go ahead, ask Him about it. He will answer. He has promised to answer. We’ve got His word on it:
3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you. And I will show you great and wonderful things which you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3 – NLV)
May God bless you and show you just how much he loves you.
Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous montrer combien il vous aime.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656