by Tom Goodman
February 4, 2015
You'll always find two qualities in those who serve God effectively: They are fearless and focused.
When Gideon rallied Israel to join him in a fight against their Midianite enemies, 32,000 responded. But then God "refined" them. That's what the verb means in Judges 7:4. God said, "I will test them" -- the Hebrew word is tsaraph, and it
comes from the work of refining gold. As gold is smelted, impurities separate and rise to the surface where a goldsmith can skim them off, leaving pure gold behind. When God's refining process was done, 300 men remained.
What did it take to be part of God's 300? If we can answer that question we'll discover the qualities that God wants in those who serve him today.
First, be fearless.
God told Gideon to release anyone who "trembles with fear" (Judges 7:3). Two-thirds of the men voluntarily left when given the chance. They had responded to Gideon's initial call (Judges 6:33), but then the weight of what they had signed up for
settled over them, and it was too great a burden to maintain.
Fear breeds doubt, pessimism, and excuses. I may have a hundred reasons to fear, but I have to bring it under control if I'm going to be effective for God.
Second, be focused.
After 22,000 left Gideon's side, God further refined the 10,000 that remained. Gideon was told to take them to the water's edge and watch how they refreshed themselves. Most dropped to their hands and knees and lowered their faces to the water to
drink. A handful, however, knelt down and scooped up water into cupped hands and lapped it. These were men who knew that they had to stay vigilant because the enemy was near. Even as they took care of their thirst, they maintained a posture that
allowed them to watch for the enemy. God told Gideon to pick these 300 and release the majority.
It's a quality needed in God's servants today, too. Over and over again the Bible commands us "watch," to "be alert." Are you focused on the task at hand?
No doubt, 300 Israelites were no match against 135,000 Midianites, no matter how refined Gideon's army was. They were completely dependent on God. But the men God used to defeat Midian displayed the admirable qualities of fearlessness and
focus. Let's be sure we're famous for these qualities, too.
This Sunday, we'll spend some more time thinking through what it means to be among God's 300. Join me at 10!
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