“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 ESV).
I remember when my children were young and wanted to do everything by themselves. It was difficult at times, such as when we were running late for church, or at bedtime. But it was necessary for them to learn how to tie their shoes, feed themselves, and use the bathroom by themselves. Acquiring these skills was essential for them to be able to go to school (among other things), where they learned how to think analytically, problem solve, and forge friendships.
Our society glorifies self-sufficiency. Billions of dollars are spent each year by people chasing the dream of wealth and financial “freedom.” The self-help, motivational industry seems to grow every year, but people still find themselves dependent upon others.
Are we chasing the wrong dream? Is it wrong to want to be independent? After all, Paul even taught independence. “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8 ESV).
Without a doubt, it is important, even essential, that we teach our children how to do things for themselves, and how to think for themselves. Being a responsible citizen of planet earth demands these things. But in stressing it so much, are we making it more difficult for them to recognize their dependence upon God?
In stressing that “you can do it yourself,” could we be impressing upon people that they can somehow earn their own salvation? After years of chasing the Moby Dick of independent life will they meet their match and drown in the Sea of Sin?
I think we need a daily reminder that, while we attempt to eek our a living on this “third rock from the sun,” while we tell ourselves that we have achieved, everything that we have has come from God. James tells us that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17 ESV). Our sufficiency is not our own; our sufficiency comes from the Father through Jesus Christ!
Yes, it is important that we learn to take care of ourselves. Even God expects that. “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV). But it is even more important to recognize that we are not self-sufficient, but we are more than enough through Him.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1 ESV).