An Unlikely Confidence

An Unlikely Confidence

January 15, 2016

"A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them." Luke 7:37-38 (NIV)

Ever meet a woman who seemed to light up the room when she walked in? Her laugh said, "I don’t take life too seriously." Her carefree walk let you know she was comfortable with who she was. Her hair and outfit seemed to be perfect. Then again, maybe it wasn’t. Actually her hair was held up in a casual bun and she had on workout clothes. So what made it seem like she had it all together?


I used to think confidence was something you were born with. If you were the perfect package — body, hair, family — you had confidence.

But I met a woman in the Bible who has changed my mind.

This woman demonstrated a very unlikely confidence. I call it unlikely because the Bible describes her as "a sinful woman." Most likely, she was a prostitute. We meet her in Luke chapter 7, and her story begins in verse 36:

    "When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them" (Luke 7:36-38).

Do you see the confidence? Confidence to walk into a house full of judgmental men looking down on those unlike them.

What would have given this unwanted woman the confidence to approach the perfect Son of God? To push past all that rejection?


Jesus called it out. "Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much …" (Luke 7:47a, ESV). Her love for Jesus gave her this unlikely confidence.

What caused her to love Jesus so much? We’re not given details about her except she was a woman "who lived a sinful life" in that town.

What had she seen? And experienced? Luke 7:11-15 offers a clue:

    "Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’ The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother." (Luke 7:11-15, NIV)

Maybe the woman was in this crowd and saw Jesus’ compassion, love, kindness, caring.

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but one thing is certain: She encountered unconditional love and it gave her the confidence to push past rejection. She knew she was wanted and it compelled her to show love in return.

Based on her past, I’m sure she knew no man could fill the gap in her heart. Yet this Man, this perfect One, loved her and it gave her unshakeable confidence.

Love empowered her.

This woman shows us: Confidence doesn’t come from doing everything right or having it all together. Confidence comes from knowing we are loved. Jesus gave it; she received it.

We, too, can find confidence, no matter how unlikely it may seem to us. Confidence to push past our barriers in order to receive and return Perfect Love.

Confidence isn’t something you’re born with. Nor do you get it from the perfect childhood or the model marriage. Rather, it comes from knowing you are loved by the One who gave His life for you.

Dear God, I want confidence like this woman. Confidence to push past my past and find expressions of love for You. Thank You for loving me and empowering me to love You back. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Ephesians 3:12, "In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." (NIV)

Hebrews 4:16, "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (NIV)

If you know a young woman who is suffering from a lack of confidence, Lynn Cowell’s book, Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants can help. Purchase your copy here.

Visit Lynn’s Cowell’s blog for more encouragement on discovering God’s confidence, and learn about her empowering Wednesday Wisdom Tips.

Has there been an event in your life or a sin you’ve struggled with that has taken away your confidence?

Ask God to heal your heart, remove your sin and help you walk daily in His confidence.

© 2016 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

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  1. Deena Maga says:

    Amen, thank you.

  2. Francine Andino says:

    This was important and necessary to hear for me. Thanks!

  3. What beauty there is in the truth of these words.

    Pushing past the fear with confidence that we are loved by the one who is love…..


  4. I so appreciate these words this morning as I feed my son. Thank you for being faithful to write a message God has placed on your heart. He uses it powerfully. It’s wonderful to be reminded that transformation occurs out of love.

  5. Mary in NH says:

    I love this message on confidence. I had a bad work experience last year, which ended in me losing my job. While God blessed me with a new job, my confidence in my skills as a teacher was shot. Through Him I am slowly getting it back.

    • As I read your comment, this insight from God filled my mind:

      Know this, Mary. You are a BETTER teacher for the experience. Students will come to you with shaken confidence. You are now better equipped to understand their pain, encourage their progress and pray for their healing.

      Lord God, restore Mary’s soul so that she may pray with confidence, “restore my students’ souls.” Amen.

    • I know the scriptures I have a difficult time applying them to my life. I have been doing a lot praying and soul searching as I am now a stay at home mom. My family recently became members of a church and I have been doing some volunteer work. I believe in God but still am lacking confidence and am having a difficult time completely enjoying my life. When things get tough I tend to sin and then I ask God to forgive me but I have a hard time of forgiving myself.

  6. Love this! Thank you

  7. Rochelle Howard says:

    Amen. Thank you. What a powerful message that we can all see ourselves in.

  8. Wow! This was a wonderful devotion to wake up to! All I can say is God is SO GOOD! Amen!

  9. I, too, am losing my confidence as a teacher. Praying for and with you, Mary, along with all other educators who feel they are losing ground. God has anointed and equipped us for this great profession.

  10. Beautiful, meaningful and TRUE. Perfect love casts out all fear.

  11. Diane Wilser says:

    Jesus often goes out of the way to encourage us and remind us that He has taken away our sins. Just like He did to Isaiah….When Isaiah realized he was a sinful man standing before a holy God….the Lord had an angel come to him with a coal to touch his lips and then to declare “Your sins have been atoned for; you are forgiven.”

    God WANTS us to have confidence! When we have God given confidence then we can hear His call of “Whom shall we send?” Our garments are clean when we claim Jesus as our cleansing agent!!

  12. How can I ever love or trust again after the betrayal by my ex?
    This is where I give my broken heart to our Lord.
    He said he would heal the broken hearted. I trust in Him
    Good message today, thanks

    • Deb, thank you so much for sharing your heart. I have a dear friend who went through this pain as well. Today, she is more confident than before her marriage. In her new season, she has learned to press into God to find who she really is. Who she is is not based on her husband, before or after her divorce. Who she is is a child of God deeply and unconditionally loved.

  13. I love this reading and the message. It’s very inspiring and reminds me that even though I’ve lived a sinful life like this I too have reached out to Jesus and I can feel his love throughout my body. It’s amazing!!!

  14. Many years ago I studied the bible abroad. I had a strong faith going in but I was young and in a new place. While the school was excellent, every aspect of my faith and life were criticized to the point where I lost all confidence. I was told my relationship with God was wrong even though I knew it was genuine. I was told I was lying about my life and culture, because it didn’t match what they had heard about America. There is much more to this, but it caused me to lose my confidence. I still struggle to know for sure I am God’s child, to go before him boldly in prayer, it has hurt my ministry to others, and made it very difficult to be confident in making general decisions. Thank you for this devotional, as I am only beginning to start the healing process and hoping it is possible.

  15. Dana Singleton says:

    This is such a wonderful message you have given! I have been so encouraged by the Proverbs 31 lessons!! I love reading them.
    When I was reading your devotional, I realized there is a Scripture that points us directly back to this Mary. She is Martha and Lazarus’s sister from Bethany. Read again about her in Luke 11:1-2. I have often heard this Mary was a prostitute (or probably one as you said), but really no where in Scripture tells us this. We are all sinners, and no sinner is worse than another unless we never ask for forgiveness. Thank you to all the women who devote their time to P31 team!!

  16. Gail wilburn says:

    I loved this story! Thank you for sharing it. I have also lack confidence in a job .I prayed to get the confidence and job back in the future.

  17. Thank God for his abundant grace and mercy

  18. mary k sapp says:

    I would realy like a copy of An Unlikely Confidence, this has been such a letter that I would like to read every min. of the day. I cant copy it off my computer, I am not good working this thing. Thank You Kathy

  19. Christine Zgrabik says:

    Just ABSOLUTELY beautiful! Thank you for sharing your heart Lynn. God bless you for your obedience! Have a beautiful day ?

  20. Love Proverbs 31 Ministries & these daily devotional readings! Thank you all so much! All the comments sent in from people are also an encouragement to me! The the prayers, words of wisdom & personal struggles that are shared help me to feel connected. There is such comfort in knowing there are those who have similar problems. In my mind I already know that but to actually see them being shared really helps!

    Thanks so much!! ❤️

  21. It is amazing what happens to a women when she puts her confidence in Jesus. It’s the best beauty secret ever.

  22. Amanda Underwood says:

    I love this devotion because I deal a lot with insecurities and it’s so good to see a woman with so much worldly sin go so boldly to Jesus. May we as women lift our heads a little higher and be able to know that Jesus is always on our side. As believers we have the ability to choose our thoughts and feelings. We don’t have to let them define us. I can ask for God’s help just as this woman did.

  23. I have been through a very painful divorce. It really has shook my confidence . I’ve been divorce now for 10 years. Throughout this time I’ve really struggled financially. I’ve also have had back problems for the past almost 5 years, which has made it physically difficult at times to work…’s also hindered me in all other areas of my life. My children are all now “out of the nest”. I struggle with these 3 things in particular. My confidence in myself & fear that I’ll be “stuck” living like this is where I have issues! Life for me gets rather lonely. I try to look at it all as His protection. Pay attention to His provisions because even the fact that I’ve made it this far financially is a miracle in itself! I know He means it all for my good but at this point in time when you can’t see anything on the horizon it’s hard not to think deep inside that He’s forgotten you or something! It’s hard at times … I know I’m not supposed to trust my feelings but after such a long time of being in such a drought I truly do struggle! Prayers please!…..Words of wisdom are welcome!!! ….. Thanks!

    • I don’t know why we have struggles in this earthly life. But remember that this is not our home…..Heaven is. Our purpose while we are here is to glorify our Lord. Someone may see a small glimpse of Jesus in you while you go through all the struggles. And if that small glimpse of Jesus leads them to a personal relationship with Him then its worth it. You may never know how you touched another life for the Lord, but He will. And He is all that matters.

  24. I loved today’s devotional, every minute of it! Reading the story, Jesus raises a widow’s Son was great! It’s always nice to have a reminder. So, thank you for these devotionals. I hope that you guys touch so many other hearts with your ministry. 🙂

  25. This just blessed me so much. I am going through a very painful divorce, and it has shaken me and my whole life to the core. My confidence has been shattered, and I struggle with guilt and shame of what I could have done for this not to have happened. I also struggle with certain sins over and over, and I wonder, though I have known and walked with Him a very long time, how He can continue to love me unconditionally through all of this. Still, after so many years, I don’t understand His love. It makes no sense, but I just choose to trust it. Thank you for this timely word of encouragement. It shows me His love when He speaks to my need right where I am.

  26. I am currently a sophomore in college trying to pursue medicine in the future. I was the girl that managed to get good grades in high school. But in college the good turned into the worst when my grades weren’t the best. My confidence was shot and I felt like as hard as I thought I tried, I wasn’t good enough to make the grades that I needed. It took a while to get over it, but at the end of the day I’m glad I went through it. It gave me the tenacity to fight harder and encourage others that may be in that same place that I was at. Thank you God

  27. I am wondering if there is a book comparable to “Magnetic” for older women. The focus audience appears to be young adults, but some of us need to learn the same lessons as older women (50+) who have been misguided. Any suggestions?

  28. I was touched by this devotional. I struggle accepting God’s unconditional love for me. I want to be God confident. Thank you for your ministry. I’d love to read your book.

  29. Thank you so much for letting God speak through you today! I needed to hear all of this, especially the prayer. It will be one I pray frequently, until I am able to let go of my past. Of course, because of Phil. 4:13, that might be tomorrow! 🙂 God bless you!

  30. I needed to hear this, thank you!

  31. I am a Christian but lack confidence. I know the scriptures but have a difficult time applying them to my life. I tend to sin when I get stressed and then I ask God to forgive but I have a hard time forgiving myself. I have been praying and reading the Bible more.

  32. I’ve never thought of confidence in this way…or that the ‘sinful woman’ had it. Each of us women who loves Jesus should have this kind confidence!
    Love this!

  33. Nancy Jones. says:

    It is pertinent that I receive spiritual growth in this inspirations. I fall by the wayside so many times but I crave & need this daily guidance in & on my life. Thank you

  34. I just read this passage a few days ago. Hearing it again today and reading the devotion were so divinely inspired. I have struggled most of my life with depression and anxiety. Living a childhood of condescension, insult and abuse set me up for a path of constant self doubt and self loathing. This past year has been a journey of discovery of who I am – who I am to God, who I am to others, who I am to me. I have learned so much. But this devotion came at a perfect time when I’ve been wavering. Thank you!

  35. “Confidence comes from knowing we are loved.” This statement touched my heart. Thank you!

  36. Lynn,
    I have purchased “Magnetic” and you are right… It is for all women. I wish I had learned this so many years ago, but I am thankful now to realize that my purpose in life all along was to become the woman God created me to be. Thank you for sharing this and helping me on this journey!

  37. Wow! Talk about confirmation! So we decided that with it being a new year, that we’d start our class literally from scratch and work on looking at different women in the Bible. I read this story last week and God had put it on my heart, literally, everyday. To the point where I felt I could see things from her perspective. So, with the help of Luke (in the Bible), Liz Curtis Higgs’s Blog she wrote about Bad Girls From The Bible, and God’s guidance… I wrote a lesson and delivered it last night in class.

    When I finished, no one was speaking. I was worried at first that I may have said too much or said the wrong thing. Quite the contrary. Everyone loved it and are looking forward to more. So I’m currently working on Part 2 of the sinful woman for next Friday night. Super excited. =)

    Thank you for your devotional. Absolutely loved it.

  38. God used this devotional to help me through a very dark time. I just found out that my husband is having an affair and I’m 34 weeks pregnant with our third child together. I have lost all confidence and the pregnancy hormones don’t help. But, I know what does; God’s love for me. I know this is not an overnight fix and I have forgiven my husband. I am putting this all in God’s hands.

  39. Thank you for this…I know Jesus forgives me for my past sins and He loves me…that gets me through each day because so many ways I have treated my family are not things they can forget or move beyond….in this life I will never totally live those things down but praise God for Jesus who give me confidence to move forward each day because depot what others think I am valuable to Him!

  40. Dear J… I want you to know I am praying for you! If I could reach thru the screen and hug you I would! You don’t need to live down your past! Jesus says go your sin has been forgiven….Believe that. Your Faith has set you free….ask you family to forgive you and live in God’s love. Follow what you know to be true! I believe the healing will come for you and your family. You are loved. I will be praying for you friend, that God’s love will fill you with confidence, Healing and hope! Hugs my friend!

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