DEUTERONOMY 8:17-18: “You may say to yourselves, “I became wealthy because of my own ability and strength.” But remember the LORD your God is the one who makes you wealthy. He’s confirming the promise which he swore to your ancestors. It’s still in effect today.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Is there any such thing as a “self made man or woman”? In the United States, and especially in Texas, we take pride in the concept of one who is “self made”. This usually intimates a rugged individualism in a person that has pushed them to succeed without the assistance of others or because they were born into a state of entitlement. Yet, is there really any such thing as a “self made man or woman”?
God gives Moses sound advice and counsel to share with the nation of Israel. They were just about to enter the Promised Land. God was promising His favor and provision of abundance, if they were obedient to His commands. And yet, the Lord knows our hearts. He knows how easily we attach His gifts of grace and mercy to our own personal effort and ability. Therefore, the Lord warns them “You may say to yourselves, I became wealthy because of my own ability and strength.” This is an easy trap to fall into.
When we rise above the “trees”, and look upon the “forest” we see and understand,
- “The earth and everything it contains are the LORD’s. The world and all who live in it are his. He laid its foundation on the seas and set it firmly on the rivers.” (Psalms 24:1-2 GW)
- “Every creature in the forest, ⌊even⌋ the cattle on a thousand hills, is mine. I know every bird in the mountains. Everything that moves in the fields is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, because the world and all that it contains are mine.”. (Psalms 50:10-12 GW)
- “My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be fooled. Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father who made the sun, moon, and stars. The Father doesn’t change like the shifting shadows produced by the sun and the moon.” (James 1:16-17 GW)
Everything we have, everything we are able to do, the air we breath, the strength we possess – is all a gift of God’s great grace and mercy! The man who is caught in the midst of the “trees” can easily deceive himself thinking that he had something to do with it. However, the man who rises above the “trees” and sees the entire “forest” quickly realizes that he really had nothing to do with it. He did not create the soil, he did not plant the trees, he did not provide the water that helped them develop, or the sunshine they needed to grow tall and strong. It was all a gift from God!
So does that mean we have nothing to do with it? Does understanding that everything we have is a gift from God lead us to inactivity? Do we simply sit idle and just wait for His blessing to fall from the sky into our hands? Paul gives us the answer to this question.
- “But God’s kindness made me what I am, and that kindness was not wasted on me. Instead, I worked harder than all the others. It was not I who did it, but God’s kindness was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10 GW)
Paul recognized that everything he had received was a result of God’s kindness, His grace. Recognizing this, Paul responded to God’s grace by giving thanks, and by working hard. In fact, his gratitude motivated him to work harder than anyone. This was his response of worship, to fully employ and use every gift, every ability, and every provision God had given Him to give God glory!
And herein lies the key. Those who recognize that everything is a gift from God always desire to give God the glory!
Lord, I want to thank You for every good and perfect gift You have given me. I recognize that it is a gift of Your Grace and I want to be faithful in employing Your Grace in my life according to the strength and ability You have given. May I always work hard in using every talent, every blessing, every provision – to touch other people’s lives with Your love, to lead them to Jesus Christ, and to give You glory!
In Jesus Name!