“I wanna do it myself.” “I can do it.” I bet you’ve heard these typical toddler responses. They’re learning. Gaining the necessary motor skills and internalizing the how’s, why’s and wherefore’s of new experiences is important. As parents and teachers, we enthusiastically applaud their achievements. We proclaim our great pleasure in their independent efforts and successes. We delight in seeing the joy and pride of accomplishment on their sweet faces. Then, as they grow up, instead of leaving childish things behind, like 1 Corinthians 13:11 encourages, many inadvertently hang onto the “joys and pride” of those independent toddler efforts. They, and we as well, end up enslaved by self-reliance.
It is a subtle thing, self-reliance. I confess my propensity to fall into it’s strong hold way too frequently, not only with family and friends, but also with God. Even as I prayed tonight for God to help me get the victory over a problem that I should have let go of, I realized that I’ve been trying to get this victory for over two years. My pastor sparked this realization in me today: at times, I have trouble getting the upper hand over an extra cookie; so, what in the world was I thinking when I determined to gain a spiritual victory on my own? ( Galatians 3:3) As I realized the futility of that mindset, I changed my prayer. “God, I need You to win the victory for me.” I was shocked at the twinge I felt in my heart as pride humbly “took a knee” to that which only God could do.
Salvation requires humility. We must ask the Lord to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Hebrews 10:10 tells us Jesus paid the price, once for all, to redeem us from sin’s grip. We freely receive His gift of salvation just for the asking. Once we’re saved and see all the victories He has worked in our lives, we can mistakenly think they happened in our own strength. We end up assuring the Lord of our ability to “take it from here” availing Him the opportunity to help those who have not advanced to our level of self-reliance. This take-over of self-reliance, then pride is barely recognizable. Sin (pride) gains the victory. And very likely, a vicious circle ensues as the whole process of correcting the problem – on our own – starts all over again.
Our good pastor shared today the steps to break out of the cycle of sin:
1. Confess the sin once you recognize it (James 5:16)
2. Repent (Acts 2:38) Request a changed heart from God and ask Him what to do next.
3. Make a behavioral change (Ephesians 4:28) Be willing to do what He prompts. Obedience brings blessing and freedom.
4. Cooperate with His transformation process (Psalms 51: 10-12)
None of us is able to overcome sin in our own efforts. Where do you need to let God have the upper hand today? Confess the sin of self-reliance and your inability to overcome it on your own. Then reap the results of freedom, and finally, the victory as God does what He does best.