Be an Impact Person or Be an Impacted Person
Main point: Anyone can have a major impact in their surroundings simply by listening to the call and instructions of the Lord.
#40, Safety with the Arizona Cardinals
7th round draft pick in 1998
Salary of $512,000 per year in 2001
Offered $3.6 Million contract with the Cardinals
St. Louis Rams offered 3 times as much contract
Pat Tillman had it all. He had the American Dream
Strong professional football career
Two multi-million dollar contracts headed his way
Real teams too -- not junk teams like the Cleveland Browns
But something happened on September 11, 2001, that changed the world, and with it, Pat Tillman. When terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, Pat Tillman realized what was really important. He saw that something bigger than himself was calling him, so he finished the 2001 season and quit the NFL.
He joined the Army as Pat Tillman, NFL Safety, and finished his training in 2003 as Specialist Tillman, Army Ranger.
Deployed to Afghanistan, was killed in a firefight in April of 2004. Posthumously promoted to Corporal.
In an interview with his former sports agent, Corporal Tillman was described as such: “They talk about being an impact player in football, but Pat was an impact person.”
Over the next few weeks I would like to share with you stories of other impact people from the Bible. Like Pat Tillman, they weren’t the headliners.
Everyone knows the stories of the “Big Names” of the Bible -- Abraham, Noah, Moses, Paul. These people made an impact, to be sure. But I want to highlight the “regular people” of the Bible -- the not-so-famous men and women who made a huge impact because they trusted in God. One such person is Gideon.
Gideon was just a regular guy. He is not very impressive at first look, but he makes some choices that flow from his faith in God. So significant is the mark this very ordinary man made in his time that he is listed in Hebrews 11 alongside the movers and shakers of the Old Testament.
Turn with me to Judges chapters 6 - 8.
At this point, Israel was occupied territory. God allowed the Midianites to conquer Israel because they did evil things (verse 1). It didn’t stop there -- the Midianites treated them worse than animals! Whenever they would grow crops, the Midianites and Amalekites would overrun their fields, leaving no living thing available for the Israelites to eat. Eventually, the Israelites get sick of this and begin crying out to God!
Remember, they brought this upon themselves due to their evil actions. God responds by sending a prophet down to straighten them out. After the prophet finishes fussing at the Israelites, we meet Gideon in verse 11.
This is our first impression of Gideon -- he’s threshing wheat -- separating the useful bits from the stalks -- in a winepress so he can hide it from the Midianites! That’s pretty low -- he has to hide his food so it won’t be stolen from him!
The angel tells Gideon that the Lord is with him. Now Gideon’s like, what? Really? Have you seen what we’re going through? I’m threshing wheat in a winepress, for crying out loud! The Lord is with me...The Lord has abandoned us to Midian!
The angel responds, “Go and save Israel out of Midian’s hands”.
Now Gideon is all kinds of confused, right? He just finished telling this strange person why Israel is doomed, and he’s not even listening! Gideon responds, “Save Israel? I’m the least in my family, my family is the least in my tribe!” Essentially, he’s the lowest of the low. What could he possibly bring to the table? Aren’t there other, stronger, more manly men out there who would do a much better job?
The angel answers, saying that the Lord will be with Gideon as he fights against Midian. Gideon is doubtful, so he asks the Lord to wait while he prepares an offering. Once it’s prepared, the angel touches it with the tip of his staff and it is immediately consumed by fire! Gideon responds by building an altar there and worshiping the Lord.
Later that night, the Lord commands Gideon to sacrifice the second bull in his father’s camp, and destroy the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole in his father’s house.
Wait, God chose this dude, who’s the smallest and weakest in the land, even though his father has a shrine to not one, but two false gods in his own house? What qualifications could this guy possibly have to save his nation?
So, Gideon does as he’s commanded -- but he waits until nightfall because he’s afraid of everyone else in town seeing that he is destroying these false altars. When morning comes, the people demand that Joash, Gideon’s father, bring out his son so he can be killed because of it! Listen to his father’s response in verse 31:
But Joash replied to the hostile crowd around him, “Are you going to plead Baal’s cause? Are you trying to save him? Whoever fights for him shall be put to death by morning! If Baal really is a god, he can defend himself when someone breaks down his altar.”
Wait, wait, wait. Isn’t this the same guy who put an altar up to Baal in his own house in the first place? Just whose side is he on?! We’ll get back to that in a minute, but I want you to remember Joash -- he’ll come up later.
Gideon is soon called by God to fight against the armies of the Midianites and the Amalekites. Gideon still isn’t convinced, though, so he asks God for two more miracles -- he laid a fleece outside, essentially demanding that come morning, God will only have the dew land on the fleece, and keep the land dry all around it. When God does this, Gideon demands the opposite -- keep the fleece dry, and and only allow the dew to soak the land. Finally, Gideon is satisfied and prepares to leave his army of 32,000 men.
God says, “No. You have too many men”. God allowed any man who was afraid to leave -- 22,000 of them. Gideon now only has 10,000 men to fight against an army much, much larger. The Lord said that Gideon still had too many men, so he separated them out further, leaving only 300 men left to fight against 135,000 men in the Midianite and Amalekite armies! 300 against 135,000!
God used Gideon and his army of 300 to defeat the evil armies of the Midianites and Amalekites in only one night! God confused their armies so they would attack each other in their fear as they tried to get away from Gideon’s men. Gideon was even able to kill the two kings of Midian, ensuring that they would not be a threat anymore! Gideon went on to rule over Israel for 40 more years!
Now, it’s obvious that Gideon had a pretty major impact on his own life, the lives of his family and even his entire nation. Gideon was an impact person.
Remember Joash, his father? Joash was not an impact person, he was an impacted person. Joash was so afraid of what everyone else would think he actually risked eternity in Hell by building (and presumably worshiping at) altars dedicated to false gods! When he was confronted about it by his son, he suddenly “remembered” that Baal was a false god and defended his son’s actions. Joash allowed himself to be impacted by everyone and everything around him. He was so afraid of what other people would think of him he simply decided to go with the flow, and play along. He didn’t have the strength to say, “No, that’s wrong! I refuse to do that, even though everyone else is doing it!”
School is starting this week. When you go to school, do you want to be impact people, or impacted people? The choice is yours -- either let the Lord guide your actions, or allow other people to tell you what to do.
Are you strong enough to do what is right, even when other people are doing the opposite? Will you make an impact in your school? Or will you be weak, let other people make decisions for you, and be impacted by everyone around you?
The choice is yours.