Today's devotion from Judges 8. In chapter 8 Gideon gets to deal with the trappings of leadership and success. People questioned him throughout the entirety of the account. First, there were those who fussed that he had shorted them by not including them in his victory. Then a group refused to help because they doubted that he could actually be successful. If that wasn't enough, he then had a situation with his son, Jether. Gideon puts him on the spot, and tells him to execute Zebah and Zalmunna.
Leading is hard. In some of these situations, you can almost see Gideon's pride. Especially as he had to endure taunts and jeers. He really appeared to relish the opportunity to go back and rub the men of Succoth's faces in his victory. As a father, I really cringe with the results of putting his son in such a difficult position.
However, Gideon does pass the power test. The people wanted to make him king. Gideon declared, "I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you." (Judges 8:23, CSB) This is a completely admirable thought, but there's a problem: Gideon's pride.
While he didn't need power, he did want a trophy. He wanted a symbol of his success and victory. Do you see the problem with this? It wasn't his victory. It wasn't his success. God had done everything. Remember the whole, "too many for me" deal? The whole point of all of that was to ensure that God was the one celebrated for bringing victory and deliverance to the people.
Yet, Gideon, who began his ministry by destroying idols, creates an ephod from the gold earrings among the spoils. This ephod, a symbol of his supposed victory, becomes the opposite of everything he is saying to these people. In fact, it in itself becomes the idol of his glory, which he stole from God. He inadvertently reintroduces the very idolatry that had led to the struggle of the people before he was called.
This is exactly what pride does. It throws our priorities out of balance, and leads to stumbling. Be very careful to avoid the snare that trapped Gideon.