The god of Self-Sufficiency

There has been more than one occasion in my life where I have said, “I can do this all on my own.” I was saying that I didn’t need God’s help. But the truth is… I did. When given a responsibility, I would often say that it was okay because of course I could handle it. Then one day after being handed a job, I realized I couldn’t do it on my own at all. I was a supervisor, entrusted with several responsibilities that had to be done in a timely manner day after day. The list was so long I felt it crushing me. Curled up one night stressing over everything I had to do, I found an article by Billy Graham that was at once convicting and yet at the same time full of comfort.

Midway through the article it said this:

“When the Apostle Paul paused to think about the enormity of his responsibility, the question arose in his mind, ‘And who is sufficient for these things?’ (2 Corinthians 2:16). He recognized the reality of a demand greater than human resources could supply. Eventually, everyone arrives at this place of insufficiency.”

Now, I have to back up for a second. Because of the stress I was put under, anxiety came to the surface in my life. I had been struggling with anxiety for years but was unaware of it until it was revealed in the work stress that was crippling me. I realized after reading this passage, a lot of prayer, and many weeks of counseling that I was trying to be self-sufficient in everyday life and do it all without God. I loved God, I knew I needed Him, and I had faith that He was in control of everything. But I still went about my life as if reliance on him wasn’t a necessity.

The article continued:

“But if Paul raised the question, he also provided the answer. How does one fulfill a calling that demands an abundance of supernatural resources? Through trust in God by way of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:4). Paul had to learn this lesson the hard way, which seems to be the only way most of us learn to depend on God.”

When suffering from what he referred to as “a thorn in the flesh,” Paul prayed that God would make it go away. When God did not grant his request, he repeated his prayer. After a third prayer God gave Paul a profound revelation, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Here is the sufficiency that Paul asked about previously, that we need to receive constantly, and that God who works His strength into us through grace promises to provide.”

When everything came crashing down, I looked to my friends and coworkers for help. I leaned on my family, and I began seeking counseling. All my life I wanted to do so many things. I wanted to accomplish amazing goals. I wanted to do be able to say I did all these things and that I did them well. When I tried to do these things in my own strength, I failed miserably and realized that I will always be insufficient on my own. I need God’s strength leading me and guiding me.

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (ESV)

Wanting to be self-sufficient and do everything on our own is a very common struggle that often becomes an idol. We say we need to do it on our own and we throw God to the curb.

Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to love God with all out heart, soul, and strength. But we can’t show him this love if we are trying to do everything on our own. However, we can show Him we love Him by setting aside our need to be self-sufficient and lean on Him for our strength.

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