When I was a kid, one of my uncles had a large farm in central Indiana. I always enjoyed our visits there, partly because of the terrain. When we reached the turn-off to his home, we were confronted by a one-car (wagon) wide path that was quite long. The fun part was that the path started at the top of a large hill and immediately went down, like one of those thrill rides at a county fair! At the bottom was my aunt and uncle’s home and barn.
The Family Reunion
One summer day my aunt and uncle hosted a family reunion at their farm. While the menfolk waited for the reunion feast (this was a long time ago) they played horseshoes and all of the cousins played in the lush grass at the bottom of the hill. At some point, one of the cousins suggested that we ride bicycles down the side of the hill – every kid is crazy, some just hide it better than others.
The idea was to go a little way up the hill and then fly down on the bicycles! This sounded fun since the long grass made for difficult peddling. There were two or three bicycles so more than one kid could go at the same time.
Going Down the Hill
I was among the youngest of the cousins, not counting babies. Still, even at six or seven, I knew I could do this despite having not yet learned to ride a bicycle – silly rabbit. So, when it came to my turn, I took the bicycle all the way to the top of the hill. I was going to have the ride of my life! I nearly did.
I felt no fear. When I walked the bicycle to the top of the hill I pointed the bike towards the bottom, jumped on, and pedaled (as if I wouldn’t have enough speed from gravity). Down I went, fast and faster. Quickly I couldn’t keep up with the rotation of the pedals. Then the handlebars started wobbling. Finally, about halfway down, I flipped. The bike was riding me down the hill!
When I reached the bottom of the hill I was a beat-up little kid. No significant injuries. but the bike had “taken the starch out” of me. That was the day I learned about foolish confidence.
As I was reading my Bible today I came across this passage:
“This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;Psalms 49:13
yet after them people approve of their boasts.”
How many times have we heard people boast about how they will live after they die. I heard a song by Willie Nelson called, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” There is no doubt that Willie has great talent and seems to be a down-to-earth guy, but the message of this song is foolish confidence.
My point is not to pick on Willie Nelson. Instead, my point is that we need to be on guard against foolish confidence. “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'” (1 Corinthians 1:31) And, let’s not forget “The Seven Sons of Sceva.”
In Acts 19:11-20, Luke records an event where seven unsaved sons of a Jewish priest tried to cast a demon out of a man using the name of Jesus. It didn’t go well. The demon told the son, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” After that, things rapidly went downhill for the sons of Sceva.
For Christians, we are called to walk in faith, share the Good News of Jesus with everyone, and learn the voice of the Holy Spirit. If we do these things then we will act in faithful confidence instead of foolish confidence.
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