Judges 6: 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
If you read Judges chapters 6-8, you read the story of a decimated Israelite nation. The “Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites” (Judges 6:1). We’re told that the Midianites, Amelekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country, camped on Israelite land ruining their crops, and killing their livestock. The Israelites retreated into the mountains hiding in caves. “Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help”. (Judges 6:6).
This is the context of our introduction to the man Gideon. The Lord heard the cries of the Israelites and chose to use Gideon to rescue his people. While God could just wave a finger to rescue his people, for some reason he chooses to partner with man to do so; Moses, Joshua, Joseph, and now Gideon just to mention a few. There also seems to be a common theme when God chooses a leader, the choice is usually counter-intuitive from a human perspective. Moses was a stutterer and yet chosen to speak to Pharoah. David was just a young shepherd boy and took on Goliath when the soldiers wouldn’t. In fact, when Samuel went to anoint the new King, he saw Jesse’s son Eliab and he thought “surely the Lord’s anointed stands before the Lord” (1 Samuel 16:6), but the Lord said “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (vs7). God saw David’s heart.
Back to Gideon; when the Lord’s angel approached him we hear Gideon’s response: “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6: 15b). Gideon did not feel he was up to the challenge God had for him and judging from his comment about being the “least” in his family, I’m sure those around him would not have identified Gideon as the man God would use to save his people. But “the Lord does not look at the things people look at”, he looks at the heart. When God looks at the heart and sees a man or woman “after his own heart”, he sees not what we are, but what we can become. And from this story of Gideon in Judges 6 we learn that when God has plans for us, he promises: his presence (vs 16); and also, his power and commissioning (vs 14).
In sports there are some athletes who are exceptional from a very young age. Often, they mature early, physically and mentally, and they stand out in the crowd (much like Eliab when Samuel saw him). There is no great challenge for a coach to identify such kids and invest in them to mold them into future stars. The great gift in coaching is identifying the athlete who does not yet stand out but has some markings of a future star. God is that super coach, the one who can see what we can become, not just what we are.
Be a young man or young woman whom God would choose to accomplish great things for Him in your lifetime. Remember what the Lord values as the important characteristics in your life; they may not be what the world sees, but to God they are the key. “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)