Thursday, October 28, 2010

The "Self-made Man"

You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But  remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. Deuteronomy 8:17–18.

Ever notice we tend to blame God when things go wrong—“Why has God let this happen,” or “why is He doing this to me?” Yet we congratulate ourselves when things go well! A sign of our typically perverse human nature.

We are all aware of the “self-made man,” who has worked hard and provided abundantly for his family and others, claiming credit for his achievement. Does a man deserve praise because he has fulfilled his duty to provide for his family? It is certainly preferable to indolence, but, as our text reveals, his work is useless without God’s provision.

I recall in younger years, I questioned the appropriateness of giving thanks to God before meals when I had worked hard to put food on the table. It suddenly dawned on me that without God’s power to infuse life into the dead seeds, I would have no food, however hard I had worked to provide some.

Following that reasoning to its logical conclusion, I am often overwhelmed at God’s provision in every corner of my life; for family, food and even comfortable furniture—always thankful for that comfortable bed at the end of a tiring day!

God warned the Israelites of the same trap. In the desert, God’s provision was clear, He provided manna, clothes that never wore out, and feet that never swelled. The land they inherited grew bunches of grapes so large, they were carried on a pole between two men (Numbers 13:23). Then, in that situation, it would be easy to believe in their self-sufficiency.

Now, in our time of relative prosperity, it is easy to forget God’s role in supplying our needs. But thankfulness has a positive side effect: it is a source of security in adversity. Recognizing God as our source in plenty, He is still our source in want. Instead of blaming God in our lean times, we have peace, knowing He will still provide for us (Philippians 4:6–7).

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