Overconfidence, Inaction, and Failure
Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 2 Corinthians 9:4
When I went off to college, I went armed with the confidence that I was a pretty good wrestler. On one of the first days of football practice, I discovered that our defensive end was also the heavyweight wrestler for our school. During some downtime on the practice field, I challenged him to wrestle, again quite confident of my skills. He was much bigger than me, but I knew I could take him. My overconfidence was my undoing as he twisted me into a pretzel, teaching me a valuable but painful lesson. In college, I wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought I was.
That was not the last time that my overconfidence has caused me misery. In my first attempt at recovery, I simply knew that I’d never relapse. My counselors told me I needed to attend meetings and work on recovery every day for the rest of my life. That sounded stupid. I didn’t need to work on recovery because I’d found it and was never going back to drug use. So, I confidently did absolutely nothing and subsequently relapsed several more times.
Even now, despite all I’ve learned, it’s still easy to become overconfident. After all, I’ve been sober for seven years. I even wrote a book about it. I can’t relapse. Occasionally though, I’ll meet someone who’s been sober for years and then relapsed, which terrifies me a little. I don’t want to live in fear of the past, but I don’t want to be ignorantly overconfident either. I desire to have a healthy respect for my struggle with drugs and I want to daily do what it takes to never return to it.
In today’s passage, Paul insisted that his audience purposely prepare themselves for his coming, warning that overconfidence would lead to humiliation. Paul knew that overoptimism and arrogance lead to inaction and inaction leads to incompetence and failure.
There was a time when I detested the idea that I’d have to work on my addiction for the rest of my life. Other Christians even seemed to encourage me in my overconfidence. You’re free. You don’t need to do those things. I’d now say that I do live in freedom from my addiction, but that’s because I continue to daily make the effort to point my life at Christ instead of myself. Simply saying, I can’t relapse, is very different than daily doing whatever it takes to ensure that I never go back to the old life.