Today’s Reading: Judges 11:1-12:15
Jephthah was a Gileadite. His father was Gilead. The next thing said about him is that his mother was a prostitute. Imagine that being your history–imagine the teasing, the name-calling, the ruthlessness with which this man was treated. Even his brothers called him the son of a prostitute and didn’t want him getting any of their inheritance, so they drove him out of the home.
Jephthah is a striking example of rising from humble circumstances. Donald Campbell called him “the loser who became a winner”. His less-than-stellar qualifications perhaps reflect the infidelity of Israel. In spite of being rejected and exiled, he rises above his circumstances and establishes himself. He gained experience and a reputation as a warrior and leader. In God’s eyes, everyone has worth. We may feel like outcasts, but we can be assured that God loves us. Jephthah’s life teaches us that we can rise above our circumstances.
When we feel shattered, forsaken and lacking, we learn that the approval of others isn’t what keeps us going—we need first and foremost God’s approval to achieve true success in life.
Jephthah became the only hope to stop the Ammonite invasion. His fame grew through organizing a band of warriors (perhaps fellow outcasts and misfits), which—in hindsight we see as God’s preparation for greater responsibilities. Jephthah the outcast becomes Jephthah the judge. The past doesn’t have to weigh us down. The author of Hebrews encourages us to “throw off every weight that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (12:1). What baggage from our past is hindering us from living for the Lord?
A speaker began his presentation by taking out a crisp, clean $20-dollar bill. He asked, “Who would like this $20-dollar bill?”, and hands started going up. He then said, OK, but first let me do this—and he crumpled up the bill. The students’ hands remained in the air. The speaker then dropped the bill on the floor and started to grind it with his shoe. It was now crumpled and dirty. Still plenty of hands were in the air. The speaker said, “You’ve learned a valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we’re worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, we never lose our value in God’s eyes. To Him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, we are still priceless.