Overcoming the Grasshopper Complex - Bob Sawvelle

Overcoming the Grasshopper Complex, Part 2

Have you ever felt inadequate for a new job or perhaps an opportunity in God’s Kingdom? If so, you are not alone. I suspect most have at one time or another felt overwhelmed when facing new responsibilities.

Further compounding the issue for many are unresolved identity issues and/or feelings of inferiority. But here is the great news: in Christ, you are a new creation and have a new identity. You now overcome because Jesus has overcome! As we renew our thinking to this truth, we become more confident in life’s circumstances and opportunities.

I started a series last week using the Numbers 13 passage about the twelve spies sent to spy out the Promised Land, to help the body of Christ understand her identity in Christ and gain principles to overcome wrong beliefs and gain confidence because of who we are in Him.

The story reveals that wrong identity, fear, and unbelief affected ten spies, which affected an entire generation, prohibiting them to receive what God had already promised. Many today struggle with false identity and a misunderstanding of who they are in Christ. Result: God’s promises are often unrealized for fear of inadequacy and failure. The series is adapted from my book, Fulfill Your Dreams: Seize the Day and Be Extraordinary.

The Grasshopper Complex, “Who are we to do this?” Num. 13:1-3,17-20, 25-33

Twelve spies were sent and found the land to be productive, just as God had promised. But ten of the twelve were shaken with fear, the fear of failure! The Canaanites had walled cities, the Israelites were accustomed to tents. Further, there were giants in the land!

The ten spies responded to Moses by saying, “Who are we to do this?” The root of their unbelief was a slave mentality. Their reasoning: former slaves who live in tents do not win battles against giants who live in walled cities. The Israelites were free from the bondage of Pharaoh and Egypt, but they still saw themselves as former slaves and therefore concluded failure was inevitable.

In other words, their slave mentality caused the nation of Israel to believe they were unable to possess what God had promised. It was their false identity that empowered unbelief and allowed their fear to rule them. Unbelief and fear can be debilitating.

The result, “… we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (Num. 13:33 NKJV) We are nobody, we are like mere insects that will get squashed! Conclusion: failure is inevitable; grasshoppers do not win wars! They were still slaves in their minds!

The Grasshopper Complex defined is when we see ourselves as being unable to move forward in our purpose and destiny because of wrong identity, past experiences, and present circumstances.

When the Israelites saw themselves as weak slaves, it was assumed that the Canaanites did also. But this was wrong. Joshua reveals that the inhabitants of the land became fainthearted, and their hearts melted for fear because of the approach of the Israelites. (Josh. 2:9-11)

When the Israelites saw themselves as grasshoppers, even the truth and facts did not make a difference! They looked at how big the obstacles were instead of how big God is!

It would be forty years before another generation of Israelites possessed the Promised Land. The unbelief of the ten spies distorted the truth and caused an entire generation to forfeit what God had freely given them.

Why did the spies succumb to the Grasshopper Complex?

The failure of the children of Israel to partner with God and possess the land of Canaan was due primarily to characteristics that formed strongholds of unbelief and fear in their minds; namely, negative thinking, false identity, fear of transition, and failure to recognize God’s will.

Negative Thinking (Num. 13:31).  The spies thought of more reasons why they could not do it than why they could. Negative thinking is cancerous! It kills and spreads!

Negativity breeds skepticism about God’s promises. The ten spies saw more reasons not to possess their inheritance than reasons to possess it.

When people succumb to negative thinking, they will find excuses not to move forward instead of finding optimistic reasons why they can accomplish what is before them. Negative thinking distorts and hinders the faith-filled perspective that is required to receive greater territory God is offering.

The promises of God, whether in His written Word or spoken to you, are invitations to realize your future. Faith builds a foundation of hope that actualizes the promise; negativity erodes the foundation of promise.

False Identity (Num. 13:33). “We are like grasshoppers!”

The ten spies saw themselves like grasshoppers, and this false identity created unbelief about the truth of their situation. Distorted vision clouds God’s solutions to problems.

A Christian who does not trust God for problems as they arise will magnify their difficulties. A redeemed mind sees the breakthrough spiritually.

Facts are subject to change; faith does not ignore the facts but declares that, with God, all things are possible.

A mind cluttered with distorted facts seldom sees clearly with the eye of faith, but the believer with a renewed identity and transformed mind sees the breakthrough spiritually before it occurs naturally. What matters most is how we see ourselves.

In Christ, we are no longer fearful slaves. But adopted sons and daughters of God through Jesus. Paul states of our adoption,

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Rom. 8:15-17 NKJV

In verse 15, The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture. Therefore, heirs and joint-heirs with Christ.

You are part of God’s family, His identity, and His lineage! You are an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ. His desire is to care for you, provide for you, and empower you to fulfill your destiny and purpose in this life. He did not leave us as slaves or orphans; rather, He gave us His Spirit to aid and empower us.

Our new life and identity are found in Christ. Where is Christ? Far above all power and principality! Our victory is in Christ, and we live from His ascension victory! We can now “go” in the power and authority of Christ, in our new kingdom identity and authority.

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Col. 3:3 NKJV

Paul’s language is clear; believers are dead to their old life and now live from new life in Christ. Our life is hidden or found in Christ. In Col. 3:3, the word hidden is from the Greek word kryptō, which means to keep safe, protect, or hide. In Col. 3:3 the word implies to hide for the purpose of safekeeping. [1] In other words, in Christ, we are kept safe, hidden in Him!

For most believers, there is a three-fold unfolding of revelation of 1) who Christ is, 2) what Christ has done, and 3) who we are in Christ. Most believe confidently in who Christ is and what He has done (through the cross and His resurrection), but few understand what this means relative to Christ in us and who we are in Him. When we understand who we are in Him, and how great He is in and through us, we begin to move toward 100-fold living and fruitfulness!

The revelation of your kingdom identity helps unlock the door to your divine destiny. Where you spend eternity hinges on what you believe about God. Your destiny hinges on your understanding of your identity in Christ and what you believe about yourself.

Remember, in Christ, you are no longer a fearful slave, but an adopted child in God’s family. Promised inheritance is for sons and daughters, not slaves. Getting free of a slave mentality is essential for you to move forward in life and appropriate your inheritance in God. Inheritance is forfeited through an unbelieving heart, but it is realized when God’s truth transforms our heart and mind.

When God is left out of your reasoning, the obstacles will always seem greater than your abilities or available resources. When you look at the challenges—and opportunities—in front of you and say, “How can I possibly do that?” then failure is certain.

Fear of Transition (Num. 14:2-4). When faced with the challenge that was ahead of them, they wanted to go back to Egypt, return to the “familiar.”

You will always long for the familiar if you doubt God’s ability to bring you through the transition. Let’s be honest, most of us do not like change, but change is inevitable to realize God-sized promises and dreams.

To navigate transitions courageously, adventurous trust in God is required. This courageous faith develops as you cultivate an intimate relationship with him.

An unbelieving mind will always desire familiar patterns, “…the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16 NKJV), over the walk of faith. However, the “just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17 NKJV).

Former lifestyles are appealing to those who still live as slaves. New territory is for sons and daughters who walk with God faithfully.

People who have not experienced the power of God in their life often hover between their faith in God and their desire to succumb to the world. Double-mindedness hinders faith and empowers fear (James 1:8).

Failure to Recognize the Will of God (Num. 14:44-45).

After the Israelites had refused God’s invitation to inherit the land, they acted according to their own will by attempting to conquer the land. They moved outside of the will of God and were defeated by their enemies.

Jesus only did what he saw the Father do. You must live in a place of close relationship with the Father to know what his will is and avoid the pitfall of acting on your own plans. The good can be the enemy of the best.

There are many good Christian activities you can put your hand to, but what is God asking you to do? Do not be distracted by the good; wait on God to reveal His best for you, and then move forward confidently.

We must stay in that place of intimate relationship with the Father to know what His will is and only do His will. Obedience is better than sacrifice!

All these disastrous consequences occurred because ten men looked at themselves and concluded that they were unable to overcome the inhabitants of the land.

God was angry with them because they did not compare the cities and giants with God, only with themselves! God will often put us in situations that are too much for us so that we will learn that no situation is too much for Him! Goliath stronger than David, Midianites were stronger than Gideon, storm on the Sea of Galilee was beyond the control of the disciples!

Deliverance from the Grasshopper Complex

Getting free of a grasshopper complex, or slave mentality, is key to partnering with God and seeing His promises fulfilled in our lives.

The grasshopper complex cultivates low self-esteem, fear, unbelief, and failure to trust God. It is the fruit of a mind that is unrenewed to our new identity and the greatness of God with us. It often is anchored to our past and causes an inability to move forward because of past experiences and present circumstances. It blinds us to the promises and power of God.

First, to overcome the Grasshopper Complex, see yourself as God sees you—in your new identity found in Christ.

How you see yourself matters—your future depends on your correct identity in Christ. The Bible is full of examples of those who missed their inheritance due to false identity, lack of faith, and underestimating the power of God.

You are not a slave in new clothes; rather you are God’s beloved child reigning with Him presently. You are a new creation in Christ, adopted by the Father, an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. You are part of God’s royal family and priesthood.

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor. 5:16-17 NLT

What does this mean? We should see everyone (and ourselves) according to the spiritual realm. 2 Cor 5:16 NKJV “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh…”

While Paul is stressing the change that has happened to each one of us in Christ (vs. 17), he is in fact trying to get us to see ourselves and each other differently!

From now on—no longer according to the natural. No one includes you! Don’t see yourself from a natural perspective. Must see yourself as you are, a new person in Christ.

You are not a slave anymore! Allow God to renew your mind and change your belief system, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2 NKJV)

Second, live free in Christ.

When the legislation passed to emancipate slaves in the United States, they were still living in slaves’ quarters. However, as soon as they heard the Emancipation Proclamation, everything changed. They were aware of their legal right to say, “I am free,” and to act upon their newfound liberty.

Believe in your proclamation of freedom. Paul stated, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law” (Gal. 5:1 NLT). You are free in Christ; live in your new identity and freedom.

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Eph 4:21-24 NLT

Put off to Put On! Why? So, we live from God’s character and holiness, and further allow our minds to be renewed and in agreement with God’s reality.

God’s realm knows no limits, lacks no creativity. Renewed mind enables God to release His ideas, His creativity to us and through us to our world. This builds faith to go after the impossible. A mind that has been renewed is willing to risk.

A renewed mind and heart create a framework for faith to operate. If we have a false identity, we will not believe His promises and we forfeit destiny.

Third, trust God to overcome the problems in your life.

Jesus has defeated every enemy through His death and resurrection. Jesus already conquered every spiritual battle we will ever face on the cross. Col. 2:15 “Having disarmed principalities and powers … triumphing over them in it.” (NKJV)

You are united with Christ in His ascension and partake in His victory over every work of the enemy. The Father adopted you, and His love for you has no limits. As His child, He promises to care for you. You can trust God’s miraculous power and rest in the finished work of Christ. If the children of Israel had believed God’s word, they would have known the land of Canaan was already theirs (Num.13:2; Jos. 1:3). Learn to rely on what God has promised in His Word.

Start with what is troubling you most at this moment! Face problems directly by giving them to God. Perhaps there are health problems, financial or debt concerns, marriage or relationship issues, addictions, habitual sin issues, fears, or concern about your future. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us we are to be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (NKJV)

Trust God to remove the obstacles that are in front of you. Know that God is with you always and include Him in all areas of your life. God wants to take complete control of all areas of our lives, turn the “reins” over to Him! Let go and let God into all areas of your life!

Fourth, choose to live optimistically. Have a positive rather than negative approach to life!

Negativity will rob you of the faith and courage to appropriate God’s promises and realize your dreams. Do not allow negative attitudes, words, or ungodly beliefs to lead you into pessimism.

Proverbs 23:7 states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (NKJV) Let the words of your mouth be life-giving; they have creative power, for the “power of death and life are in the tongue” (Prov. 18:21 NKJV).

Taking your mind off negative thinking will disempower it. Live in your new identity and see yourself as an overcomer in Christ. It takes a mind fixed upon Christ to remain positive in challenging situations and release words of life that will shape your prophetic future.

Part of your positive confession is maintaining a heart of gratitude and thanking God daily for your blessings. As you choose to live in thanksgiving, your attitude will improve and be more optimistic.

Paul says, in 1 Thess. 5:18 “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you…” (NKJV) Gratitude creates an avenue for God’s grace to sustain you in life’s journey.

Do not allow negative attitudes and ungodly beliefs to cause you to be pessimistic rather than optimistic. Do not lose the race before you have run it!

Determine each day to let God display His power in your situations. Choose to believe God for the breakthrough!  Luke 1:37 “The things that are impossible with man are possible with God!” (NKJV)

Also, learn to encourage others, and you will encourage yourself! One of the most persistent problems in the church is discouragement.  Must encourage others, or they may lose hope, fall into mediocrity, or even quit the race.

2 Cor. 1:4 Paul wrote that God “comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (NKJV) As we encourage others, we get strengthened (Heb. 10:25).

God expects us to use our failures and afflictions and His comfort that we received to help encourage others.

Fifth, expect God to enlarge your territory.

God’s kingdom is an expanding kingdom; growth is to be expected and God wants to enlarge your influence so that many others receive His love and power. While there are seasons of rest for us to enjoy, we also need to guard our hearts against complacency. Do not become content with only using a fraction of your potential.

Do not become content with too little; ask God to enlarge your borders for His glory! We often become satisfied with a thirty-fold return, while the Father is trying to lead us into hundred-fold living.

Do not be content with failure. God is the God of the second, third, and multiple chances. A casual observance of the Apostle Peter’s life proves God specializes in second chances and enlarged spiritual territory—even for those who have failed.

Failure is not God’s plan for our lives, but neither is a mediocre life. God has extraordinary lives planned for each of us! We are to be content (Phil. 4:11), but we are also to press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14)!

Col. 4:17 Paul told Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” (NKJV) It is our responsibility to do it!

The Israelites were more content to wander in the wilderness than to trust God for the Promised Land. Caleb however, at 85, wanted the mountain that God promised him (Jos. 14:12-14).  So, he takes Hebron with its Anakin and fortified walls! He knew that God specialized in victory, not defeat! He was free from the Grasshopper Complex!

Trust God for a mountain! Trust Him for only something He can do! If your vision is within your reach, it is probably not God’s vision!

God Specializes in the Impossible

He takes our weaknesses and failures and turns them into huge successes. Our failures are God’s backdoor to our success!

He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, That He may seat him with princes, with the princes of His people.” Psalm 113:7-8 NKJV

You are not a Nobody; you are a Somebody to God!  Allow Him to raise you out of your past failures and current limitations to do the impossible by His grace and power!

Consider praying this declaration over your life, and do so for thirty days if you struggle with your identity in Christ:

I am a child of the King. I am a co-heir with Jesus. All Jesus brought and paid for is my inheritance. I am united with Jesus. I have been crucified with Christ. I died with Him. I was buried with Him. I was raised with Him. I am seated with Him in the heavenlies, far above all rule, all power, all authority, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. Therefore, I carry the authority of Christ. I have authority over sickness, over sin, over the flesh, over demons, and over the world. I am the salt of the earth. I am the light of the world. I will displace the darkness. I have the full armor of God, the helmet of salvation, and the sandals of peace. I take up the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, for the weapons of my warfare are not fleshly. They are divinely powerful to tear down the strongholds of darkness. I can do all things through Christ, because greater is He who is in me then he who is in the world.[2]


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For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Overcoming the Grasshopper Complex, Part 2

[1] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[2] Peter J. Bellini, Unleashed!: The C1-13 Integrative Deliverance Needs Assessment: A Qualitative and Quantitative Probability Indicator (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2018), 95.

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