How can a person walk in true confidence?
We live in a world that urges us to see the power within us apart from God. The self-help and self-esteem movement promises that if we’ll simply be positive enough about ourselves, we will be able to accomplish anything.
Before we take issue with that line of thought, we have to acknowledge that we have often embraced a theology that runs to the other extreme. We’ve taken the doctrine of depravity to the point of favoring self-loathing and self-hatred, which are just as unhelpful and just as unbiblical.
The beauty of being a follower of Jesus is that we have the inside track on a completely different way of thinking. We get to choose the middle way in which each of us is infinitely valuable because we are made in the image of God, but we were created to rely on the presence and power of God at work within us so that we could rise with confidence as redeemed people.
Our creed is not that we are amazing on our own or that we are sufficient without any connection to our Creator. Neither is it that we are worthless lumps of clay with no value to God or to his world. There is another way and Paul lays it out for us.
Paul, in this passage, tells us that a past event changed everything – the work of Christ – and that our faith in that finished work prepares us and equips us to walk through life differently. We get to walk as those who are justified.
He also tells us of the present possessions we enjoy as a result of the work of Christ in the past.
First, we possess unfettered access to God. The door is always open to our prayer and our meditation. God is willing to commune with anyone who approaches him with faith in what Christ accomplished.
Second, our suffering makes sense. It all matters. God never wastes a hurt, and this passage reminds us of this truth. Paul actually says we get to “boast” in our sufferings – not that suffering is, itself, a good thing, but rather we get to rejoice in the result of our sufferings – our growth in character.
And thirdly, we possess an unshakeable hope for the future. Elsewhere, Paul has told us that the Holy Spirit is like a downpayment on the future. That is, our present walk with Jesus assures us that our hope is absolutely sure.
If you want to be more confident with others, start with seeing how it is possible to be confident with yourself and with God on the basis of the gracious act of God saving the world through his Son.