Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)
Why did God choose Gideon? He was weak, scared and hiding. He was the last one anyone would expect could deliver his people. And God did that for a reason. He wanted the victory to reflect Him and His power only. He did not want to share His glory with anyone or anything (like Baal, or a golden ephod). Is that selfish? You bet it is. It is a “selfishness” appropriate to God only. God knows that when He gets all the glory, we get all the happiness and fulfillment we were meant to have. He made us for this reason — to glory in Him. When we do that, we are in alignment with the universe; when we don’t, we are at odds with everything. So for Him to desire our worship is for Him to want us to be whole.
Now according to Paul, God chooses some people who are wise (by human standards), influential or of noble birth, but not many; and if you are one of these, and you are relying on your wisdom, influence or pedigree, you have the wrong foot forward. Wise (by human standards), influential, prestigious people who are following God don’t count on any of their worldly strengths or pedigree. Liked Paul, they consider all that stuff rubbish. (Philippians 3:8)
Os Guinness is one of the smartest intellects alive, from one of the richest families in the world, with a ton of influence, but ask him what he thinks of any of that and you will find out: rubbish. When it comes to his calling from God, he is as foolish, powerless and insignificant as any poor illiterate nobody born in obscurity.
God wants to accomplish much for His kingdom through each and every one of us, but that will come only through our weak, scared, impoverished souls, so that whatever He accomplishes for His kingdom through us, we can’t take any credit for. The fact that Gideon took some of the credit for what God did through him was his downfall. He did not finish well. He may have knocked down the pagan idol before victory, but he put up his own after. Bad idea.
Now does any of this mean we grovel? Do we walk around with a “Woe is me, I’m finished, I can’t do this” attitude? No. Did Gideon go back to the winepress? No. He came out and followed the Lord’s instructions, and God did a great thing through him. Did that make him anything more than the weak, scared, powerless person he was in the winepress? Not really. It just made him a weak, scared, powerless person — the youngest from the smallest clan — who was relying totally on the Lord.
And once you have one of those victories under your belt, you start showing up for more. “Okay, Holy Spirit, what do you want to do through me today?” So that at any time, in everything, we have cause to boast, but our boasting is in the Lord.
What are you facing today? As for me, I am facing a lot — enough to send me back into the winepress. I love this winepress! I love threshing wheat in here, thinking I’m doing something important, when there are 135,000 Midianites out there terrorizing my family and the kingdom of God waiting to go forth in power. There is a lot resting on what you and I choose to do today.