After being trained in martial arts for 11 years, I felt confident I could protect myself and neutralize any threat seeking to harm me or others with me. But with these skills I developed, I failed to realize my greatest threat was not an opposing enemy or even someone trained better than myself, but my own self-confidence. The confidence I thought of as my greatest strength turned out to be my largest weakness.
During a recent sparring match, I was chosen to go against a beginning student in our academy. We introduced ourselves and began. I let him initiate first and countered. After some time of grappling, I found myself being choked by him. I defended as usual and twisted my body to turn out from his arms, but I found that the more I twisted, the tighter the choke got. Usually my twisting loosened my opponent's grip, this time it only succeeded in strengthening it. But my stubborn will and self-confidence urged me to keep twisting and holding it out—to do anything but tap and end the match in my opponent's favor. To my surprise it did end the match, but not how I expected.
When the event was over I opened my eyes and, amidst the outlines of blurry faces and muffled hearing, I saw people standing over me. I quickly searched my memory and realized that the last thing I remembered was being choked. That is when it occurred to me—I was choked out. After I recovered my senses I talked with my partner and asked him to show me his technique. He gladly did and explained to me that because he was new, this was the only technique he knew so he spent extra time drilling it to be thorough in executing it.
Oftentimes in life, we have adversities we have to face and grapple with. We may sometimes assume we are strong enough to withstand the attack ourselves, but eventually, we will be defeated and overcome with no hope left, looking up to our adversary grinning at our defeat. But this only happens when we fight in our strength and confidence.
When we lay our trials before God and rely on Him for strength, we can be sure that we will be “more than conquerors through him who loved us,” because “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31; 37). The apostle Paul tells us to, “Have no confidence in the flesh” in Philippians 3:3 with effort to silence claims made by his contemporaries, insisting they were more acceptable to God based on their abilities. Or even beyond abilities, many pride themselves with circumstances they have overcome.
Paul, again, references this when he boasts about trials he endured for Christ’s sake, listing examples such as saying: “[I have] been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked...” (2 Corinthians 11:23-25). However, he summarized by saying, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (v. 30).
Our talent is our gift from God; how we use our talent is our gift to God. Each circumstance and trial we face are likewise meant to bring Christ the glory. Let our confidence be in Him, not ourselves.