I’m not sure what’s worse: feeling like a hot shot who can conquer the world or so inadequate you’d rather crawl under a rock. If you’re a Christian, neither perspective is healthy or even Biblical. But, we’ve all been there at one time or another. When we’re not relying on God as our source, we will either be full of ourselves or secretly terrified.
Scripture is very clear that “apart from God you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Nothing! That doesn’t mean you can handle some things on your own just fine, thank you, but would like Him around for the difficult stuff. It means your strength, talents, abilities, passions, achievements, character, successes, opportunities, etc. all come from Him! This is hard for educated, resourceful, 21st century citizens to fully grasp because it doesn’t feel true. OK, so try on this one for size:
|“Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6)|
A New Awareness
The day this verse jumped off the page at me, it changed my life. As a compulsive over-achiever, I used to drive myself with a perfectionistic zeal. I studied hard and worked long hours, not because I loved the schedule, but because I couldn’t stand mediocre work. That sounds great, in principle, but underneath there was pride and fear of failure and what the Bible calls a “worshipping of the work of my hands,” in other words an exalting of my own abilities, talents, and achievements. It’s certainly how the world works, but as a Christian, where did God fit in to all of this?
God was watching patiently and loved me enough to eventually put me in a job where I had to totally rely on Him for my competence…it was very, very hard, but I learned what it meant to be humble, dependent and amazed at what He could do through me to touch others– if I just let Him.
And that was they key. When our hearts are so full of our own pride, egos and agendas, there is little room for God to work through us to touch others. But God cares deeply for all people…He died for them– as well as you and me!
If you belong to Christ, you also have died and it is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you (Galatians 2:20). German theologian Martin Luther says that the only reason God allows us to live in this body and walk on this earth so that we can help other people and bring them to heaven. This is the good fruit that Jesus spoke of.
It may look terrifying to lay down our idols and contemplate a loss of identity, lifestyle, accolades…whatever it might be. But, when we do and make more room for the Spirit in our hearts, God can realign our priorities so we partner with Him in our jobs, careers and life’s purpose. This partnership will bring a satisfaction, drive and inner joy that we’d been looking for in all the wrong places.
Right now, stop and contemplate these next verses, and thank God for the strength, talents, passions, and abilities that He has given you to serve Him and others. Then, ask Him to help you find the path He has marked out just for you and for the desire and courage to follow it with all your heart and strength for His glory.
|“Forgetting what lies behind, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)|
|“I consider everything else worthless because I’m much better off knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. It’s because of Him that I think of everything as worthless. I threw it all away in order to gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)|
|“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)|