Recognizing Strengths
Judges 6

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

For those of us who have lived in bondage to addictive/compulsive behaviors, loss of self-respect is a familiar feeling. It is easy to begin to see ourselves as chronically weak, small, even hopeless. We often fall into the rut of believing we're destined to bondage, poverty, and failure. When this view of ourselves and our lives persists, we give up the possibility of change. We settle for just trying to survive. We live in fear and shame, filling up with resentment as our lives remain in the pit. As we make our inventory, we should take time to test these kinds of assumptions about ourselves.

When we first meet Gideon, he is discouraged; he's a young man with little self-respect. His family was the poorest in a small tribe, and he was the least in his family. We first see him threshing wheat in a winepress, to hide the wheat from the enemy who would steal what little food he had. An angel appeared and called to him, "Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!" (Judges 6:12). Gideon didn't look or feel like a mighty soldier, but God could see his potential. By the end of the story, Gideon had become the deliverer of his people (Judges 6-8). His first step toward success was to see himself as God saw him-as a "mighty hero." Then he was able to hope in the possibility of freedom.

We can use our inventory to help us see ourselves in a new light and summon up the hope for a better life. Then, as God gives us the strength, we can pursue freedom from the bondage that surrounds us and our families.

We need to discover our special gifts and learn to focus them on the problems we face.