Confidence is a popular subject today. We are told to think confidently, to be self-assured, to live brashly, boldly, and brazenly. In a myriad of ways, the theme of modern society is to be self-confident. Popular religious leaders make confidence the centerpiece of their teaching. Does the Bible agree with this “positive thinking” mantra? If the Bible teaches us to be confident, what should we be confident about? If not, why not?
The word confidence (or its close derivatives) is used 54 times in the KJV and 60 times in the NIV. The majority of uses concern trust in people, circumstances, or God.
The Bible says there are some things we should not have confidence in. For example, “Have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Paul wrote these words to counter the claims of those who thought they were acceptable to God based on their heredity, training, or religious devotion. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and our résumés and genealogies don’t matter much to Him.
Proverbs 14:16 says that a righteous man departs from evil, but a fool rages in his confidence. In other words, to arrogantly assume that sin has no consequences is a foolish confidence.
If we’re going to be confident in something, Psalm 118:8-9 tells us what it should be: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” Those who trust in government, finances, other people, or themselves will be disappointed in the end. On the other hand, those who put their confidence in God will never be ashamed (Romans 10:11).
Psalm 16 is an example of a positive confidence in God. David takes no credit for his own goodness (v. 2), nor does he extol his own abilities. Instead, every good thing is ascribed to God (v. 6), and great hope is based on God’s character (v. 1). Because God is unchanging, David confidently rested in hope (9), despite hardships in life (v. 10).
Our confidence comes from Christ. He is our High Priest, and through His intercession, we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). The apostles before the Sanhedrin displayed an assurance that amazed their antagonists: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
We can follow God in full confidence in His wisdom, power, and plan. As we obey God, we have assurance of our salvation (1 John 2:3). Having a good conscience aids our confidence, for we hide nothing. “The righteous are as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1)
Paul gives us that “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). God promises to work in us so we are confident that God would help us stay in truth (Galatians 5:10).
When we put our trust in God’s Word, our lives have stability, focus, and poise. A biblical self-confidence is confidence in God’s character. We put no confidence in us, but we have every confidence in the God who made us, called us, saved us and keeps us.
God Bless You,
Dr. Les Morgan
Royal Palm Christian Counseling