Overconfidence, Monkey Bars, and Head Trauma
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12
I have a fuzzy childhood memory of trying to swing from a jump rope hung from the playground monkey bars. I’d seen Tarzan do it in a cartoon and I thought I’d recreate the scene at recess. I didn’t lack confidence, but I did lack ability. Apparently, I didn’t make it, but instead fell, knocking myself silly. I don’t remember the fall, but I do I remember coming to, wondering why I was lying on the ground with everyone looking down at me. My overconfidence was my undoing.
I did much the same thing in my early efforts at recovery. I was told by my treatment counselors that I required a relapse prevention program: daily readings, meetings, a sponsor. For how long? I was told I might need to do this for the rest of my life, but I knew better. I’d learned my lesson and knew I’d never go back. I relapsed two more times, causing more destruction each time. Again, my overconfidence was my downfall.
It may not involve drugs, but as Christians, we’re often tempted by overconfidence. After all, Paul said in Romans 6:6, We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. There certainly are passages which seem to say we’re completely free from the old life. If we only read those passages, it would be easy to believe that we’re made perfect and that everything we do must be right and good, because we’re new creatures in Christ.
Such thinking can easily lead to an overconfidence that tells us that we no longer need to admit flaws, crucify the old life, or do anything to follow Christ. I’m fine. I’ve got the new life. I can’t fail! In such a state, we never need to apologize or change.
Then, there are passages such as today’s that bring us back to reality. In his warning, Paul recounted the Israelites in the wilderness, who simply assumed that since they were God’s children, that they could do no wrong. Instead of daily following God, they did what they wanted, and subsequently destroyed themselves.
Paul insisted that we’re not yet perfect. We’re still flawed, and we can still fail. In embracing overconfidence, like me on the monkey bars, we court disaster. If we truly desire to know life, joy, and freedom in Christ, daily, we must humbly admit our flaws, doing what it takes to abandon them and follow God.