On the surface self-reliance seems right. We are taught it at an early age. After all, isn’t this a part of our American heritage? To encourage youngsters to value independence and reliance on their own strength and abilities? Isn’t this the “rugged individualism” that our culture prizes? After all, if our kids are ever going to get up off their knees and begin to walk, they will have to pull themselves up to stand, won’t they? The seductive wisdom of the world says self-reliance is a positive quality to be prized and pursued with the greatest vigor. We hear this from well-meaning parents, from well-intentioned coaches, and from well-informed teachers. We see it played out in movies and televisions shows, we listen to it in the lyrics of songs, and we read all about it in a plethora of self-help materials. We are urged to work harder . . . do more . . . and as we strive to live a successful life, we are conditioned to endlessly repeat: “If it is to be, it’s up to me!” Once we have been seduced by self-reliance, we begin the slide down the slippery slopes of self-esteem, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-actualization, and self-righteousness. The problem with all of this is found in one little world: SELF! With all this focus on the self, there is no time to focus on our Savior. There are a great many non-believers, and even some Christians, who believe that the phrase, “The Lord helps those who help themselves” is part of sacred Scripture. Nothing could be further from the truth! Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to live self-reliant lives. In fact, we are called by God to do just the opposite. We are called to live lives that are totally dependent upon Him. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,” our Lord said, “for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). Our loving Lord commands us to come to him as children—needy, dependent children who must rely on our Father to feed us and clothe us and provide us with our every need. We are to look to Him for everything: from our daily bread to protection from temptation to the eternal condition of our souls. Dependence didn’t start in the Garden after the fall; in other words, dependence is not a result of man’s sin! Our divine design is dependence upon God. In fact, everything in creation is dependent upon God. There is no such thing as a “self-made man.” But after sin entered into the world due to Adam’s ghastly act of cosmic treason, it has been in our DNA to live self-reliant lives, apart from the will and wisdom of God. Adam yielded to the temptation to be independent, and as a result, self-salvation has become the preferred method of salvation for the world and for far too many in the church today. Many Christians who study their Bibles and attend Bible-believing churches will agree that there is no room for self-reliance when it comes to our justification (eternal life). But deep down, far too many of us rely on self when it comes to our sanctification (everyday life). And this is exactly what the devil would have us believe: “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” That is nothing more and nothing less than a lie straight from the pit of hell! The same grace that saves is the grace that sanctifies. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Satan loves it when we rely on ourselves; our strength, our abilities, our efforts, our wisdom, and our plans, because apart from Jesus the end result is zilch . . . nada . . . nothing! Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12) If you believe you are “standing on your own two feet,” Christian, take heed lest you suddenly stumble into the ditch! We are called to live lives that are pleasing to God and beneficial to others, and we will never generate that holiness within ourselves. Paul asked rhetorically, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). I say that question is rhetorical, because we have seen it emphatically answered in Romans 11:36—“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” Do you see that? ALL things! “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:24-25 NIV). Only the Gospel re-orients our hearts and re-calibrates our minds to look outside ourselves for the solution to every problem, the answer to every question, and the ability to overcome every challenge. When we are depending on God and not being seduced by the worldly illusion of self-reliance, we know that whatever we are going through has been given us for two reasons: His glory and our good. And the only way we actually go through it is because God brings us through it. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!