Self-made?

self-made

Deuteronomy 8:18 “Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

In the movie Shenandoah, Jimmy Stewart utters a table prayer that goes like this: “Lord, we cleared this land, we plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. We wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be eatin’, if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-boned hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you just the same anyway, Lord, for the food we’re about to eat. Amen.”

The Lord knows that such an attitude is easy to fall into. When the Children of Israel were about to enter the promised land, he gave them this warning: “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you….Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God….You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me’” (Deuteronomy 8:10-17).

What’s wrong with thinking we are “self-made men” if we have worked hard to achieve our goals? The very term “self-made” is a contradiction! Can anyone or anything “make” itself? Everything we have and everything we are comes from God.  This is not limited to the bodies we inhabit. There is not a thing we have ever done or accomplished for which we deserve the ultimate credit. Even the talents and abilities which produce such things come from God.

While this truth may confront us for our conceit, it is also a wonderful source of comfort, isn’t it? It assures us we can trust the God who loves us to take care of all our needs. The burden doesn’t fall on our shoulders. Just as he has promises to supply us with the necessities of life, we can be sure he will either give us the ability to obtain those things ourselves, or he will provide them through others or through his miraculous power.

Elijah once learned that lesson. When Israel came under a three-year famine, there was no possible way for Elijah to care for his own needs. What did he do? He trusted the Lord to take care of him. The Lord sent ravens who brought him food every day. Later the widow of Zarephath was able to provide his daily bread when the Lord miraculously multiplied her little supply of oil and flour (1 Kings 17).

Living in a ravine and eating scraps of food, or eating the same meal of bread every day, may not be our idea of living “high on the hog.” But Elijah had all that he needed. Elijah was not wealthy, but God was faithful to his promise.

Jesus repeated these same promises in the Sermon on the Mount. He assured his disciples, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).

All these things will be given to you as well. We can trust our loving Father to provide for us and preserve us for as long as he needs us in this world. It is a natural consequence of his saving grace. After all, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

The One who sacrificed his only Son to redeem us from sin will not fail to take care of every other genuine need we have in this world. He made us. He has every intent to care for the work of his hands.

 

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