“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (II Corinthians 3:5, English Standard Version).
Most of us take pride in our accomplishments in life. Whether it’s a level of education, mastering a skill, or achieving success in a career, we feel good (perhaps even pride) about what we have achieved. Society often extols what they call “the self-made man.” This person through intellect, determination, and hard work has accomplished amazing things. Often, he takes all the credit for his triumphs.
There is a problem with this way of thinking. It’s not biblical. Yes, drive and determination are important, but no one ever succeeds completely on his own. We must recognize the “God factor” in whatever success we find in life.
The Source of Our Success
If I were to chat with each of you in person, most could tell me where you were born, list your family at least a generation or two back, and tell me a bit about your interests and skills. But how much of that did you control? None. To feel that we are the creator of our destiny is to discount God at work among us. Jesus tells us in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” To think otherwise is pride.
In Luke 12:16-21 Jesus tells the parable of a very successful and rich man. He felt he had it all under control and declared, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” God was not in his thoughts; he was master of his own life—or at least he though so. But God was not pleased with his prideful thinking and said, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”
There is no sin in being diligent or in having wealth. The danger comes when we take credit for what is really God’s blessings upon our life. No matter what our endeavor, acknowledging Him as our partner is essential. There is no true self-made man. We are what we are because of God, our Creator, not our ambition.
“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24, ESV).
(Additional scriptures to study: Deuteronomy 8:17-18; Psalm 100:3; Proverbs 10:4; Proverbs 14:23; Proverbs 23:4; Isaiah 66:2; Mark 8:36; II Corinthians 12:9.)
Prayer: Lord, help me to acknowledge You in all that I do. Keep pride from my heart and keep my motives pure. My desire is to please You, not others, in all that I do. Thank You for the blessings You have given me. All that I have comes from Your hand and I am thankful that You are guiding my life.