The Folly Of Self-Reliance

Not one of us chose to be born. None of us knows the date and manner of our death.  We did not choose our hair color, eye color or skin color. We did not choose our nationality. In order to live, we are completely dependent on air and water, and clearly we did not create either of these. So why, for goodness sake, have we succumbed to the modern cultural belief that we are somehow self-reliant beings? To believe this is utter folly. Apart from God we can do nothing. Please read more.

As a result of my ministry work with Broken Door Ministries, I have encountered, worked with, and given spiritual counsel to many people dealing with addictions. Having had this opportunity is not only a blessing but it has been a tremendous learning experience. From a secular point of view, every addiction recovery program directs the addict to rely on some “higher power.” As Christians we KNOW this higher power to be Jesus Christ!

I too have struggled against the thorns in my own life. Have you? If you have, I hope that today’s message might be of help to you.

One of the main things I have learned from my own struggles and from working with people who are struggling to overcome addictive behavior, is their tendency to confuse recovery with perfection. In order to please God, we do not have to be perfect. I believe what God expects from us is the pursuit of perfection coupled with the understanding that we will never achieve it on this side of death. More importantly, God wants us to rely on Jesus and the saving power of the cross for those occasions when we do fall short of that goal.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the writings of St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. This is what he wrote. “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The wisdom of God’s word in Scripture is that we are not told what Paul’s “thorn” was. I believe this was a purposeful omission so that each of us can relate to Paul with whatever “thorn” we may have in our own life.

It is said that pride is the root of all evil. I believe that when Paul said, “Therefore, that I might not become too elated,” he was really saying “Therefore that I not become so proud and boastful in my own abilities” or maybe “Therefore that I might not become so delusional, as to I actually think I am in full control of my life,” a thorn in the flesh was given to me. Paul recognized the benefit of having the thorn. THE THORN KEPT HIM HUMBLE AND DEPENDENT ON JESUS.

Despite Paul having begged the Lord three times to remove his thorn, it remained. Have you begged God to remove your thorn only to have it persist? I have.

Now pay close attention to what God told Paul. He said “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  Perhaps we should all print this out in large bold letters and tape it to our bathroom mirror and read it several times a day. GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT. He did not say our strength, will power or resolve are sufficient to overcome our weakness. He knew we would always have a thorn of some kind to contend with. God wants us to rely on Jesus.

If you, like me, have become frustrated by some aspect of your life, some annoying thorn that is always poking at you, don’t despair. We must not beat ourselves up needlessly, simply because we have not achieved a full and total recovery from our thorn or addictive behavior. We need a spiritual paradigm shift. Rather than looking at our life as a glass that is half empty, we need to see it as a glass that is overflowing with God’s GRACE.

Paul said he would boast of his weakness in order to bring focus to Christ who dwelled in him. Starting today, let’s give thanks and praise every day to our Heavenly Father for allowing us to have our weaknesses, shortcomings, and trials because they are a constant reminder of the utter folly of self-reliance and a positive reminder of our dependence on Jesus our Savior. 

Heavenly Father, help me to always be mindful that without You, I can do nothing! Amen.

As always, I love to read your comments below as well as hear from you personally by clicking here.

Be sure to be on the lookout for next week’s 4th Day Letter. It will be our 400 edition and it will contain a very important message!

Brian Pusateri
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