August 8 – Coward to Conqueror – What Dictates?

Read Judges 8:4-19

One lesson I continue to learn is to be careful with my words and actions when my emotions run high. When we are exhausted and drained emotionally, we can easily let our guard down and regret what comes out of our mouth and our choices. 

Gideon was weary and hungry, a combination that can ignite anger in any of us. On top of that, we read in verse 19, that he was grieving the loss of his brothers. Perhaps mixed in with all his emotions was guilt. After all he was the leader of the army. Weariness, hunger, guilt and grief. Gideon was in need of God refreshing his soul, but as verse 4 states he was weary, yet pursuing. He did not stop. At this point it seems like Gideon is acting on his own strength, rather than on God’s and we find that his downfall is just around the corner.

When the town leaders of Succoth and Penuel refused to give food to his hungry, tired men, Gideon lost it. He lashed out in angry words and threats. With gentleness and kindness by the wayside, he discovered the power of words that tear down others. Although Gideon was a hero and man of faith, from this time forward his story takes a turn in a different direction. Unfortunately after these events, the rest of the story does not end well.

This account reminds me of another man of God, who acted when emotions ran high. (Read 1 Samuel 25:1-35) David and his men had been living in a cave, fleeing from King Saul. Samuel died and all Israel was mourning his loss. Grief filled David and his men were weary and hungry. David sent ten young men to ask wealthy Nabal for some food and his request was rejected. In anger David chose to fight, but God intervened by sending Abigail to diffuse the situation. (verse 32)

Acting on emotions is never a good thing. Lysa TerKeurst says, “Feelings are indicators, not dictators. They can indicate where your heart is in the moment, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to dictate your behavior and boss you around.”

Years later, probably when David was a king, he wrote in Psalm 23 that the Lord makes him lie down in green pastures and leads him beside quiet waters. When we are weary and our emotions are on the edge, God tells us to stop and receive refreshment.  Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 

Perhaps if Gideon would have stopped and refreshed in the Lord rather than acting on his emotions, his story would have ended differently. Our story is still unfolding. What will dictate? Our emotions or our strength in the Lord?

Charline Engle

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