What does the Bible teach about confidence?

To have confidence is to have belief that you can rely on someone or something. We trust those in whom we have confidence. The world will tell you to have confidence in yourself and your ability to accomplish your goals and realize your dreams. Rich people are often confident in their wealth. The powerful are often confident in their strength and position. The worldly wise are confident in their wisdom. Is this what Christians are called to do? Are we called to believe in the world's gospel of self-confidence? No! The source of Christian confidence is not in himself or herself but in God Himself (Jeremiah 9:23–24). The goal of the Christian life is not selfish ambition, but the glory of God (Philippians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 10:31). As Christians, we are warned not to trust in ourselves or our own wisdom but to trust in God (Proverbs 3:5–6). He is our confidence, our rock, our refuge (Psalm 18:2).

Whereas the self-confidence promoted by the world has selfish ambition as its goal, the confidence of the believer has a right relationship with God as its aim. The Christian's confidence does not come from the self. In fact, the Scriptures warn us not to trust in ourselves, and that no spiritual good comes from our flesh (John 15:5; Philippians 3:3). The apostle Paul made this point by pointing out all the advantages of the flesh in which he could boast. Then, he calls all such advantages rubbish. What matters is not our pedigree or résumé but knowing God through faith in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:4–9). As believers in Christ, we are called to have confidence, not in our strength, but in the power of God the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4–5). The paradox of the Christian life is that when we acknowledge our weakness, we are at our strongest because this is when we rely on God's strength (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). We are like unplugged appliances and God is the power outlet. Until we plug into Him, we are powerless, but when we depend on Him we have the power of the eternal God working within us (1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 3:20). As we seek to live for the glory of God and to promote the gospel of Christ, we have the confidence that comes from the Spirit of God. For God does not give His people a spirit of timidity but His Holy Spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

It is the risen Christ that we are called to have confidence in above all, for it is only through trusting in Jesus that we can be reconciled to God and come to know Him and experience an eternal loving relationship with God (John 14:1, 6; 2 Corinthians 5:18–19). We cannot merit salvation on our own (Romans 5:6–8; Ephesians 2:1–10). We cannot even guarantee our plans for tomorrow (James 4:13–17). But in Christ, we can be confident that we are eternally secure (John 10:28–30). God knows what our tomorrows hold; He goes before us and walks through life with us.

None of this is to say that Christians should not have self-confidence or self-respect. The issue is the source of our confidence. If we are confident based solely on our own abilities, we will ultimately disappoint ourselves. But if we are confident in Christ, we can also have confidence in our identities in Him. We can trust that He made us unique for a purpose, and we can seek to live out that purpose through His power and grace, and do so with confidence.

It should also be noted that any confidence we place in others or in the things of this world must also, ultimately, flow out of our confidence in Christ. The things of the world are uncertain. But God is certain. It is because God is completely trustworthy and secure that we can open ourselves to the risk of trusting others. We know that others will fail us, but their failures need not rock our sense of security because our true confidence is in Christ. It is when we are children of a God who is steadfast and reliable that we can truly open our hearts to others, to love them and to receive love from them. Again, it is not that we have no confidence in other people or in earthly endeavors, but rather that we do not rely on those things for our security. Rather, we place our complete confidence in God, trusting that He is steadfast, loves us completely, and has all power. Things may happen that we do not understand or prefer, but when we know God, we can rest in Him and trust that He is good (Romans 8:1–39). Our confidence to engage fully in these lives is founded in our faith in God, a God who is absolutely trustworthy (Hebrews 13:8; James 1:16–18).

As Christians, we are called to have confidence in God, that the good work of salvation He has begun in us will be completed by Him (Philippians 1:6). We are to be confident that when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ we will be accepted by God based on the righteousness of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. We are to be confident that we can boldly approach God in prayer and will receive His mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:14–16; 10:19–23). We are to be confident that God loves us and that He who did not spare His Son will also not fail to give us everything we need (Luke 11:9–13; Romans 8:32). God's Word communicates these precious promises to us and we are called to have confidence in God's Son, God's Spirit, and God's Word (2 Peter 1:3–4; Philippians 1:29; Ephesians 1:13–14; 2 Timothy 3:16–17). God's Son accomplished our salvation, God's Spirit applies our salvation, and God's Word contains the promises that these things are true and that we can have confidence in God and the salvation He has given to us who believe in His Son.

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