A phrase I don’t hear much anymore to describe a proud and overconfident person is, “You’re too big for your own britches.” Though the phrase wasn’t used back in the first century, the same attitude was displayed by the Apostle Peter.
Jesus had just said, “‘Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’” (Luke 22:31) In other words, Jesus told Peter that he was on thin ice, that Satan was looking for a way to knock him down a peg or two.
How did Peter respond to the Lord’s news? Was he humbled? Did he respond with thankfulness that the Lord would watch over him? Nope. In effect, he said, “Lord, You don’t know how fearless I am. I’m not scared of the devil nor of anyone else. You can count on me.” His exact words were, “‘Lord, I’m ready to go with You both to prison and to death!’” (vs.33)
How did Jesus respond to his machismo? Did the Lord apologize to Peter for even thinking that he would fail? Or was Jesus sorry for doubting Peter’s bravery and his level of commitment? Not at all. Jesus never sugar-coated His response, but said, “‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me!’” (Luke 22:31–34)
It sure is easy to TALK big or THINK big, but it’s another thing to actually follow through. I find that I’m very brave lying under the blankets in my bed at night, but in the light of day, my determination and boldness wane. I may not have voiced my overconfidence like Peter did, but I’ve been guilty of boasting silently to myself.
I think that one of the recurring messages in the New Testament to Christ-followers is to not put our trust in our own abilities or accomplishments. That only leads to pride and comparison. While the Apostle Paul had a lot that he could boast about, he was very clear that he didn’t put any “confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3)
Paul was confident that the resume of his life showed him to be very religious. But he had absolutely ZERO confidence that he could somehow obtain salvation by any of his accomplishments. It’s not wrong to be confident in our abilities. I want a surgeon who is confident that he or she has honed their skills. I want engineers who are confident in their computations when designing an airplane or a bridge. Peter’s problem was that he was over-confident.
Christians sometimes display the same kind of overconfidence as did Peter when we assume that we can stand up against the schemes of the devil on our own. “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
We don’t realize that we are no match for the devil’s strategies. Like Peter, our only recourse is the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the prayer and advocacy of the Lord. “‘But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’” (Luke 22:31)
God still looks for the humble person. “In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because GOD RESISTS THE PROUD BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time.” (1 Peter 5:5–6)
If you haven’t yet humbled yourself before the Lord, that’s the first step. Admit that NOTHING in your life qualifies you to live with Him in Heaven. Then ask Him to take up residence inside you.