-written by Matt Clotfelter
All of us like positive statements. Statements like, “You did a great job!” “You are important to me!” It feels good to be affirmed after we do something good. Keeping this in mind, I try to apply this principle as a dad. I take every chance to give my sons positive feedback.
I also try to give positive pre-action statements. “I know you can do it!” “You’ve got this!” These sometimes give us the nudge we need to do something well outside our comfort zone. As a kid, maybe you were nervous to ride a roller coaster, but you had a buddy with you to give you that common encouragement, ”What are you, chicken?” While this particular statement may not be the most positive, many a young man has done something they thought they couldn’t because of it.
We find this same principle in the Bible. In Judges 6, we find an unusual encounter between an angel and Gideon. Unlike most of the encounters in the Bible, Gideon doesn’t even realize he has seen an angel until the end of their meeting. Instead, he spends most of their encounter hung up on a single sentence the angel says. Judges 6:12 finds Gideon hiding his grain, and the angel says, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you.”
Gideon’s contention is that he can’t do it because he is the least important person in the least important clan. Gideon misses the entire point of the statement. God wants Gideon to do great things for Israel through His power. It isn’t going to be Gideon’s might or will that accomplishes the goal. God desperately wants to take the young man cowering in the winepress and use him to free His people from oppression.
Even with Gideon’s doubts, his constant asking God to show His power, and his reluctance to cut his army, God never gets frustrated with Gideon. God continues to give him the gentle nudges he needs to steer him the right way. Once he is convinced of the plan, Gideon’s army of 300 men is used by God to defeat an army of 135,000 soldiers. God took a young man, gave him the positive pre-action statements he needed to steer him from a world of fear, and provided salvation to Israel from a time of Midianite oppression.
We all exist inside a circle where we are influenced and where we influence others. Some people have a small circle; some people have huge circles. Where the rubber meets the road is whether we use that influence to encourage people to get out of their “winepress” and do what God is calling them to do.
And do we listen to those who are pouring into us and get out of our “winepress?” In 2 Timothy 1:7, we are encouraged, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”
God’s power can wipe out fear. Speak the words they need to hear — words of truth, words of life.
Matt Clotfelter is married to Amie and they have 2 children, Tyler and Marcus. Matt serves as a deacon as well as volunteers in the SoHills nursery, preschool ministry, and preteen ministry.