Many example of faith can be found in the bible. Usually, these examples are of men and women who, quite honestly, put us to shame by their inspiring whole hearted trust in God, and the tremendous things God accomplished through them because of their faith. The example of the man Gideon, however, is an especially unique example of faith in God, and one that is very relatable for us all. Gideon was a man who needed an extra boost in confidence from God. Sometimes he needed multiple boosts. Sometimes it was he who requested the additional assurance from God; while other times God offered the additional boost of confidence without a request from Gideon. What a wonderful God to serve! One who loves us even though we are frail in mind. One who understands the weaknesses we have and aids us in becoming stronger. Gideon’s life is a great example of this fact. Let’s notice a few points from the life of Gideon.
The narrative of Gideon is found in Judges chapters six through eight. Due to the disobedient state that Israel was in at that time, God brought them under the oppression of the Midianites as punishment. Israel spent the next seven years tormented by the Midianites. During this time, the Israelites became a society of cave dwellers in an attempt to secure themselves away from the Midianites. Israel became a nation of great poverty, having their land, crops, and livestock destroyed by the Midianites. So after seven years Israel had learned its lesson and turn to God for their salvation. In response God calls upon a man named Gideon to be a mighty man of valor and lead Israel toward the defeat of the Midianites.
When we first meet Gideon, he is not, however, a might man of valor, nor is he the great man of faith that we hear about in Hebrews 11:32. What we see is a man living in fear of the Midianites, hiding food from them. What we see is a man without faith in God, saying “if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” When God called Gideon to be His vessel, Gideon did not believe Him at first, wanting proof that it really was God who was saying these things. Now, many may stop here and say “how dare this man!” But God does not seem to think this way; instead God gave him exactly the proof that he asked for. This gave Gideon the faith to tear down the altar to baal and build an altar to the Lord. He also had enough faith to sacrifice one of his family’s bulls, which is a challenging request from God in the midst of great poverty. Notice that the scriptures give insight into the faith of Gideon at this time, saying that he did all of the above at night for fear of his family and fear of the men of the city. He is not a man mighty in faith yet, he doesn’t act in inspiring courage like we see exemplified in other men of faith in the bible. But what we do see is a better man than yesterday. What we see is a man who was without faith in God, but now is acting entirely by faith in God, even though he could be stronger in it.
What we are witnessing in Gideon’s life is a process of growth; we can’t get to point “c” without starting at point “a” and pass through point “b.” We can’t expect otherwise from Gideon, ourselves, or members of the church. This does not mean we are at liberty to stop growing, this means we must be understanding toward the process of growth and the time that it takes. God illustrates to us his patients with Gideon throughout his dealing with him. God didn’t expect a mighty man of valor overnight; rather he brought Gideon along one step at a time until He made a faithful warrior out of him.