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God doesn’t think like we do. In response to this statement, you might say, “No duh, Jim.”

Or words to that affect.

But God’s thinking should influence what we do as Christians and how we think. The way of thinking I’d like to address in this post is our of-the-world reasoning that bigger is better.

Consider these things:

God Almighty in the flesh, Immanuel, descended from heaven and took on the body of a man. Jesus demonstrated His power over the material world many times: Increasing the substance of bread, walking on water, stilling a storm, changing water into wine, healing people, and raising them from the dead. All of this was done to glorify the Father and to prove Jesus’ deity. However, this Almighty God chose only twelve men to whom He would entrust the continuation of what He had initiated and made possible. Why only twelve? Or eleven, if you exclude Judas. Why not one hundred? A thousand? Ten thousand? This is Almighty God, after all, and this was Jesus’ only opportunity to gather lots of people. Eleven men? Really?

Why only three years? Again, this was His one and only opportunity.

The wonderful, glorious answer lies in a passage in Judges when the Lord behaved in a similar way with Gideon.

The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained. And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people are still too many” (Judges 7:2–4a). 1

Ten thousand was still too many, so He reduced the number. Three hundred against how many enemy soldiers?

And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance (Judges 7:12).

Now, you know as well as I do that this just doesn’t make any sense. However, it made perfect sense to God, who only does wondrous—and perfect—things.

Does God need big numbers of His people to work His work?

Well, if the lives of Gideon and Jesus have any meaning for us, no.

Well, then, why do we think He needs large numbers?

The simple answer: We don’t think like God does.

Second answer: We think we will get more done for God.

Third answer: In our it-makes-sense-to-get-the-numbers way of thinking, comes a shift that is subtle but calamitous: We will get more done for God.

Again, this makes perfect sense to us. We’re working hard, right? We’re praying, right? God wants to expand His kingdom, right? God will to be glorified in big numbers, right? Big numbers equal, um, success.

Full stop.

I’m pretty certain that if Gideon and his ten thousand men had beaten the Midianites, they would have said, “All the glory goes to God,” in much the same way we do now. However, the Lord knows our hearts better than we do. He knew the temptation that Gideon and his men would face if He didn’t make it absolutely clear that He alone was bringing the victory. Think Moses and the crossing of the Red Sea. Think marching around Jericho. Think David and Goliath. Who brought those glorious victories? Men? No. God alone.

This way of thinking is so radical that we can’t imagine how to implement it. What? God could do glorious things through a handful of people? No. We need to get together as many as possible—God’s great army of believers.

No, Gideon’s army of believers.

What does this mean for the way pastors and leaders do ministry? All I have to offer is the truth of Scripture. What believers do with that truth, well, that’s their choice.


1The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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