God is continually at work on our tendency to rely on ourselves instead of relying on Him. The words of Jesus often hit home for us when He speaks in such a very simple way. The disciples knew very well who Jesus was and had witnessed many miracles in the 3 ½ years that they spent together. But on this particular occasion Jesus asked them a very penetrating question. John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”
This question was asked as a result of many of His disciples no longer following Him. Many people today are working very hard for the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But they are not really depending upon Him. Once we have committed ourselves to Christ and have obeyed Him by being baptized we need to discipline our lives and realize that we are united with Him, and by being united with Him we must and can depend upon Him.
Several years ago I saw a cartoon that showed a man leaning over a casket, whispering to his deceased wife: “does this mean you won’t be cooking dinner tonight?”
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Apart from our union with Christ in a total reliance upon Him we can do nothing that glorifies God. Our society today worships independence and self-reliance. “I am the master of my fate – I am the captain of my soul”. This is the motto of our society – this motto sounds like a four-year-old child. We can easily fall into our society’s way of thinking and adopt its motto. We tend to rely on our knowledge of Scripture, our own abilities in business, our ministry experience, and even our goodness and morality. God uses adversity to teach us to rely on Him instead of ourselves.
2 Corinthians 1:8–9 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. God used this situation to cause Paul and his companions to despair even for their very lives. They had no place to turn except to God. Paul had to learn dependence on God in both the spiritual and physical realms. Paul desperately wanted to get rid of his thorn in the flesh. God let it remain to curb any tendency of pride in Paul’s heart. God also wanted to teach Paul to rely on God’s strength. Paul had to learn that it was not his strength but God’s grace – God’s enabling power that he must depend on. Are we any different than Paul? Some believe that if Paul had not become a Christian and instead gone into philosophy he might have surpassed Plato. God gave Paul great intellect and God gave Paul divine revelations. Some of which were of such glory that Paul was not permitted to tell about them. God never permitted Paul to depend on either his intellect or his revelations. Paul had to depend on God’s grace just like you and I must do. Paul learned through severe adversity. Are you at the point that Paul was at and can say: 2 Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
It does not matter whether you are a person of strengths or weaknesses on the natural level. You may be the most competitive person in your field. You can be sure that if God is going to use you He will cause you to totally depend on Him. God may use the thing we feel confident in so that we will learn to depend on Him not on ourselves. If God is going to use you and me He will bring adversity into our lives so that we too will learn to depend on Him.
Portable video recorders and cameras have a battery for power. Usually the instructions recommend that users allow the battery pack to completely discharge before recharging, especially the first few times. This actually increases the endurance of the battery. An analogy can be drawn between a video camera battery pack and the adversities (discharge) we experience, emptying us of our dependency on human strength and increasing our capacity to receive God’s limitless power and strength.
“Jesus is all we have; He is all we need and all we want. We are shipwrecked on God and stranded on omnipotence!” Vance Havner
How can you change your tendency to be self-sufficient instead of depending upon God?