(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.”
How much is too much?
Too much is anything that can give you or someone else the impression that what God has wrought in your life was something that you did. It could be a strong intellect, a commanding personality, handsome looks, a natural talent, physical strength, wealth, charisma, even spiritual gifts … all of these are very good things but any of them can take the glory away from God and make people think we did it, and God does not like to share His glory.
So this is not just a one-time story about Gideon; it’s a story for all time about how God uses us. God has His ways of reducing us. He strips us of whatever we are relying on that isn’t Him. He looks at us and says, “You have too many warriors with you.”
So God told Gideon to send everybody home who was afraid to fight, and 22,000 out of 32,000 fell out of rank leaving 10,000 warriors to go up against 135,000 of the enemy. “How do you like them odds?” And God looked at those numbers and said, “You still have too many warriors.” Sometimes He will reduce us to ridiculous odds only so we can’t possibly take any of the glory. Nor can we gain strength from anything but Him.
How often have we seen great Christian leaders crash and burn? That is usually because they were relying on their own strength, charisma, or past success. God reduces us before He uses us; and if we don’t go along with this process as Gideon did, He will step in and make sure we are humbled and in some cases humiliated. But out of the ashes — out of the rubble — comes His great power, and when that happens, there can be no question where the power comes from.
It’s God’s plan of reduction. Jamie Owens Collins has a song about this: “If love does not flow through me / I am nothing / Jesus reduce me to love.”