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grasshopperThinking too little of God sometimes leads you to think too little of yourself.

For years, I thought it was the other way around. I always thought that seeing God as big meant I needed to see myself as small. Or, to put it another way, the bigger my vision of God grows, the more my vision of myself will shrink.

Wrong.

While it’s true that an oversized view of yourself can be a sign that you have an undersized view of God, it’s also true that an undersized view of God can make yourself smaller.

This truth hit me when I was preparing to lead a Gospel Project session about the twelve leaders from Israel who went into Canaan to spy out the land. Ten of the spies focused on the obstacles – the fortified cities, the formidable armies, and the towering giants. Then came their pitiful self-assessment: “To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them” (Numbers 13:33)

Grasshoppers. That is the label the spies used to describe themselves.

Here they were – the chosen people of God, the children He rescued from slavery and set on the path to the Promised Land. The people who witnessed the mighty hand of God smiting the most powerful empire in the world. Grasshoppers.

The warning sign of Israel’s faithlessness was not that they thought too highly of themselves, but that they didn’t think highly enough. Their lack of faith in God led to a distorted vision of themselves and their obstacles. They saw the problems as bigger than they really were, and thus they saw themselves as smaller than they really were.

When your God is small, your obstacles seem big. But when your view of God is small and your view of your obstacles is big, your view of yourself shrinks.

That’s the insight that rocked me. I’d always thought that “trusting in myself” was the sign that I was failing to trust in God. As if faith in God and faith in myself is a zero-sum game.

But that’s not the story of the Israelites. When their faith faltered, they saw themselves as smaller and more insignificant than they really were. Instead of sensing humility and awe in what God had promised to do through them, they felt humiliated before the giants in the land.

We are mere grasshoppers! they thought. We can’t take on the giants. We’ll be squashed!

Here, the Israelites weren’t thinking too highly of themselves because they thought too lowly of God. They were thinking too lowly of themselves because they thought too lowly of God.

And so, I ask myself:

  • How many times have I failed to act in faith because I thought too little of myself, or because I minimized the gifts and talents and passions that God Himself has put in me?
  • How many times have I viewed myself as a grasshopper rather than as a child of the King?
  • How many times have I exaggerated challenges and diminished God’s call?
  • How many times have I faltered in faith, not by overestimating myself but by underestimating what God can do through me?

Failure to see the grandeur of God squashes our hope in what He can accomplish through us. A distorted vision of God leads to a diminished view of ourselves. In the end, we no longer think we are capable of doing what God has called us to do.

Reading the narrative in Numbers, I want to step into the scene, shake the Israelites by the shoulders and say, “God sees you as His children! He has called and equipped you. Take the mountain! You are not lowly insects cowering under the feet of your enemies – you’re the children of the King whose footstool is the entire cosmos!”

Here, Israel got it wrong. But in a later scene, the future king David gets it right. He marches right up to the giant and takes him down. This wasn’t an act of arrogance, but of confidence in the God who had called him, the God he knew to be stronger than the enemy.

Underestimating yourself is not humility, but faithlessness. The stronger your faith in God is, the stronger your faith will be in what God can and will do through you.


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3 thoughts on “Faithlessness Shrinks You Down To a Grasshopper”

  1. Eric says:

    Good thoughts Trevin.

    A person without faith looks at the man and considers their attributes. Whoever considers his own strength important will automatically consider another man’s strength in comparison to his own.

    A person with faith trusts in God’s strength. He has no regard for giants and no regard for grasshoppers. He only is concerned with what God has said. May we have the faith that says what I am does not matter.

    [Rom 4:19-21 NASB] 19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

  2. Timothy says:

    Wow! This was a great encouragement and rebuke to my small view of God. It goes hand in hand with a verse I read this morning: “Oh give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is vain. Through God we shall do valiantly and it is He week shall tread down or adversaries.” Psalm 108:12-13

  3. Ray says:

    Yes, what an excellent thought, Trevin. Thank you for that.

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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