“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” – Philippians 4:13 (MSG)
Is being self-sufficient a problem? Countries, cities and people long to be completely self-sufficient. No one wants to rely on others if they can help it. After all, depending on someone else is often painful. As Christians, self-sufficiency can detract us from pursuing the life that only God can give. The bottom line is I am only self-sufficient, when I don’t believe God is truly sufficient.
We also want that inner confidence that we need to achieve godliness in our lives. Then one day reality hits. The presence of God is like paint thinner, removing the layers of self-reliance that have built up over the years only to disappear when we find ourselves in a mess of our own making. Self-confidence and self-sufficiency is no longer the answer. Self-reliance is no longer the solution. When the layers are removed, all that remains is a broken vessel that cannot beat without the life-support of Jesus and His Spirit in us. It is at that time when you realize that God is sufficient.
At various points in my life I started down the road feeling like the self-reliant Pharisee who walked into the temple, stood by himself and prayed this prayer in Luke 18:11: “…’I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery…” But somewhere along the journey, I end being the hopeless tax collector who stood at distance and said, “’O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ (Luke 18:13)
Before you start imagining that pastors spend their days as a unorganized mess surrounded by chaos (I do have those days now and then), let me shed a little light on the subject: I have structure, plans, goals, and purposes. They help me because aimlessness is never a good thing.
So yes, I take matters into my own hands. But my intelligence, talents, material possessions, is never a substitute for relying on God alone. In Colossians 2, Paul uses phrases “in Him” or “with Him” six times: In Him we have been made complete (v. 10). With Him we are buried in baptism (v. 12). With Him we are made alive (v. 13). All I could ever need for the rest of our lives is found in the very person of Jesus Christ.
God is pruning away self-sufficiency and growing faith in Christ in it’s place. I’m learning at a deeper level that self-sufficiency doesn’t honor God. Doing something beyond what you can do through your own strength and willpower brings glory to God.
- How do you draw the line between self-reliance and reliance on God?
- What can we do this week to place our trust and reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ?