September 27, 2020

Pastoral Nuggets: The Runt of the Litter

(Personal Note: Today’s Pastor’s Column marks a personal milestone for me. This is the 400th article I have written since I resumed writing them. It is an honor for me to be your Newspaper Pastor! ~ Brother Aaron)

One of the greatest obstacles we face as Christians is … learning to see ourselves as God sees us.

In other words, knowing our true identity!

If you have been in church for any length of time, undoubtedly you have heard the Old Testament story of an Israelite named Gideon.

Gideon comes onto the Biblical scene at a time when the Israelites are being dominated by the Midianites.

God hears the cry of His people and sets a plan into motion that would ultimately lead to Israel’s unlikely and miraculous defeat on the Midianite Army.

Following God’s instructions, Gideon would lead an army of three hundred men to defeat the Midianite Army, that at a minimum, consisted of one hundred and thirty-five thousand men. Only God can do something like this!

The story of Gideon’s miraculous victory does not start on the battlefield.  It starts long before that.  In fact, it started when God, in the form of an angel, decided to visit with Gideon under an oak tree. This is what theologians call a Theophany or Christophany, a pre-Bethlehem manifestation of Jesus Christ.

Judges 6:11-12, (KJV) “And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.”

Ain’t it funny how that in life the most profound things often have the humblest beginnings? So it was with Gideon.

There were many reasons God chose to visit with Gideon under that oak tree that day. I will not attempt to name them all. However, I will name a few.

First, God wanted to identify Himself to Gideon. Secondly, He wanted to share His plan for delivering His people. But thirdly, and most importantly, I think God wanted Gideon to see himself as He saw him. He wanted to restore to him his true identity! You see, God called him a Mighty Man of Valor.  But that is not the way Gideon saw himself. He had an identity crisis.

If you read on a little further in these scriptures, you will find where Gideon told God that his tribe was the least of all the tribes in Israel, his family was the least of all the families in his tribe, and that he was the least of all the members of his family.

He considered himself, in all ways, a nobody, the Runt of the Litter! But again, God called him a Mighty Man of Valor! So, the story of Gideon can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but at its core, it is about one thing. It is about a man learning to identify himself the way God identified him.

So, when you contrast how God saw Gideon with how Gideon saw himself, it is easy to deduce that Gideon was the victim of identity theft!

As I close this column today, I want to remind you that the One Who created you is the only One Who has the power to name you.

And that you are who He says you are – period!  What others think of you does not define you, your current circumstances cannot constrain you, your failures do not dictate your future, and your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength.

Remember, Jesus looked at the Runt of the Litter and called him a Mighty Man of Valor! Then the Runt of the Litter took three hundred men and defeated an army of one hundred and thirty-five thousand men!

This could only happen when the Runt of the Litter reclaimed the identity the devil had stolen from him!

Just maybe, you need to take back the identity the devil has stolen from you – become the Mighty Person of Valor God created you to be – and stop being The Runt of the Litter!

Brother Aaron 

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