Courageous Confidence - Bob Sawvelle

I was out walking our dog the other morning when I came across a “defiant friend.” In the path ahead of me was a horney toad lizard. If you’ve never seen one, they look like a small “dinosaur.” Their protruding horned spikes give them a menacing look. True to the character of the horney toad, it enlarged its body causing its horns to thrust forward, attempting to intimidate me. While this technique may work against a predator trying to have breakfast, I found this lizard rather amusing who was “staring” me down defiantly.

As I gazed on my little friend, this thought flashed through my mind, “male bravado.” I don’t know if the lizard was a male or female, but the phrase applied. Male bravado is a term meaning, “A show of bravery or defiance, often in order to make a false impression or mislead someone. Origin of bravado: French bravado, Old Spanish bravado, swagger.” [1]

Indeed, this small lizard was brave and defiant, and he gave the “false impression” that he was to be feared. His technique worked. When I realized that he wasn’t going to budge off the path, the dog and I humbly went wide left to avoid him. I simply didn’t want to take a chance that he and our curious dog would have a “go around.”

Thoughts from a Horney Toad Encounter

Two thoughts came to me after I walked away from my encounter with the horney toad lizard. First, is that pride in the heart “puffs” up a person. Pride, left unchecked, may try to intimidate and control others. This type of bravado is unhealthy for anyone, but especially for the follower of Christ. The second insight came from Proverbs 28:1 NKJV, “…the righteous are bold as a lion.”

Healthy, Godly confidence, creates courage when faced with formidable situations. There is a place of “healthy” bravado and swagger a believer should walk in. There can be a fine line between pride and confidence—learning to live in Godly confidence free from pride is important. Let’s take a closer look.

Unhealthy Swagger

The Bible is clear about pride, “…God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5 NKJV) When pride rules in the heart, God’s grace is restricted from moving freely in a person’s life. Grace empowers us to become all that God desires. He gives more grace to the humble in spirit. God simply can’t grant greater grace to someone full of pride—they could be dangerous to themselves or others. Pride also “darkens” a person’s spiritual countenance.

Did you know that some species of horney toad lizards can “shoot” blood from their eyes toward an approaching predator, or perceived predator? This would certainly be intimidating to a hungry coyote. But pride “shooting from the eyes of a believer” toward others to “intimidate” and control them darkens the light of Christ in one’s eyes. God intends that the eyes and heart of the disciple of Christ are a conduit for His grace and love to flow to hurting world.  When pride fills one’s life, the flow becomes intimidation and control—the opposite of love and grace. Much can be seen in the eyes of the follower of Christ.

Pride is often triggered in some people as a response to fear. The horney toad “puffs” itself to intimidate as a created defense mechanism and from fear—and rightly so. But once again, for the follower of Christ, pride that develops as a form of control, born out of fear, is dangerous. Fear can breed an unhealthy response to many situations. Only complete trust in God, in and through all situations of life, will free the follower of Christ from pride that attempts to control and intimidate others.

Healthy Swagger or Courageous Confidence

The horney toad lizard that I encountered the other day was also confident. Courageous confidence is needed by God’s people in our world. Without healthy Godly confidence, the believer is at risk to “passively” take what the devil brings and avoid action for God. After all, it is less “risky” to sit on the couch and just watch TV, but Jesus has called us to something greater, hasn’t He?! (John 14:12)

The Christ follower should be confident. We serve the resurrected King of Kings! We are united with Him in His ascension glory and authority, partakers of His divine nature (Eph. 2:6; 2 Pet. 1:4). To walk in “false humility,” never using the authority we have been given through Christ’s commission (Matt. 28:18-20), the authority of His name (John 16:23-24), or the empowering of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), does disservice to His name. Simply stated, being falsely humble doesn’t glorify Jesus. Genuine humility recognizes that apart from Jesus, “I can do nothing, but with Christ, all things are possible!”

As God exhorted Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Jos. 1:9 NKJV), we need to be reminded that God intends His people to be strong and confident through Him. Learn to rely confidently in almighty God, knowing that He is always with you, never to leave you nor forsake you, not for the slightest moment (Heb. 13:5). Confident people, walking in Godly humility, impact our world with His love and power. Learn the “good” lesson from our horney toad friend, be bold and confident, you will cause the enemy to flee before you and help others find freedom in Christ!

Bob Sawvelle





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