I was introduced to the basic concepts of economics during my freshman year of high school. Now, before you hit the snooze button on this article (like I’m sure we all did far too often throughout those glorious days of painfully awkward social scenarios we’ve replayed and rehashed repeatedly for perhaps more than a decade now), let me uncover a truth your slightly dull but well-intentioned economy teacher probably didn’t share.
In the book of Judges, we get to peer into a story you may have skimmed over or skipped past in your Bible reading app. However, there is a deeply powerful truth to extract from what some would deem an obscure scripture.
Judges 8 opens up like an epic war film scene, starring the likes of Russell Crowe in full gladiator garb. God’s mighty warrior, Gideon, and his 300 mighty men are in the middle of a mission to crush the Midianite army and its kings. As we walk through the opening verses of this passage, we find that Gideon is on the hunt for two men, Zebah and Zalmunna (names I’m sure won’t make Hollywood’s Top Names of 2017 or might they…). These are men who have been oppressors of the people of Israel and have earned earnest execution. I want to direct your attention to verse 20. After tracking down the men he sought and learning they had killed his brothers, Gideon calls them to be executed by the sword of his son, Jether.
Then he spoke to Jether, his firstborn: “Get up and kill them.” But he couldn’t do it, couldn’t draw his sword. He was afraid—he was still just a boy.” – Judges 8:20 (MSG)
I can’t imagine commissioning my son to take the lives of even my worst enemies, but this wasn’t uncommon in ancient times of conflict and warfare. Now, the ethics of that mode of action is not what I wish to discuss. We’ll leave that conversation to someone much smarter than me. I’d like to point you to a profound truth that impacted me during my reading of this verse.
First, we have to understand who Gideon was. He was a fearful boy that God called a fearless warrior. In time, he became a bad dude in a good way. After shedding the skin of his fear, Gideon became one of the most feared men of God in the ancient world. He was the JJ Watt of the Old Testament, if you will.
Taking into account who Gideon was, there are some assumptions that can be made about his son, Jether. He was one of the 300 God-chosen mighty men. He had the unique opportunity to see how his father trained, led, prepared for battle, strategized, fought, swung his sword, intimidated his enemies, and recovered. He was after all an extension of Gideon. He had his very DNA and genetic code. You could easily say that he had an advantage. In the same way Lebron James’ kids have an edge over other hoop-hopefuls in their age bracket, solely based on their genetics and exposure to their father’s profession when it comes to game of basketball.
Yet when called upon to activate everything resident in him, Jether hesitated. Fear froze him in a moment of destiny. He assessed himself and his capacity to carry out what his father called him to do and quickly grab ahold of what he perceived to be a deficit instead of grabbing ahold of his weapon. Maybe, like me, you’re finding yourself yelling at Jether in your mind, “What?! You’re Gideon’s son! Fight! You have what it takes! If you didn’t, your father wouldn’t have called on you to fight!”
Then, it hit me. I’m Jether. Ouch.
How many times has God called on me to draw my sword, to step out in faith, to give a little more in that offering? Or to clear my throat and speak up about my beliefs to a stranger, to sit down and look my wife in the eyes and deal with our issues only to be frozen by fear? What paralyzes us in moments like these? It’s a couple of words from that economics class we coasted through. Surplus and deficits.
Many times when God speaks our name and it rings heavy with calling, the confidence in His voice is immediately met by the deafening sound of deficit that’s been reverberating in our soul. Many of us consider our deficits before we consider our destiny.
Jether immediately disqualified himself with the deficit of his age, disregarding everything else he had in his favor. We must conclude that Gideon saw more in Jether than Jether saw in himself. We often fall into the same trap. Unfortunately, there are times that our Heavenly Father sees more in us than we see in ourselves.
In further study, we find that Jether’s very name means ‘surplus.’ See, his father saw a surplus, but he saw a deficit. Oh, that we might see ourselves through our Father’s eyes!
Perhaps the deficit you see is your age – you’re too young or too old to carry out the calling on your life. Maybe the deficit you see is a lack of skills, experience, or perhaps one too many poor choices. May I remind you that through Christ, God sees only the surplus inside of you. The God of immeasurably more lives in you. There’s a thriving economy at work inside of God’s children and there is a surplus of resources. It’s the Spirit of God. The ‘more than enough’ of God’s abundance has been deposited into your soul, your life, your dreams, your family, your career, and your ministry.
In the moment when you’re faced with the pressure to execute, don’t operate from your deficit, disregarding your destiny. Fight from your surplus. Remembering that there is more in you than you may see right now. That’s faith; believing that what you may not see still indeed exists.
There’s an economy in you and it’s one where God turns the divine deficit into a supernatural surplus.