The Sin of Self Reliance

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own estimation, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”(New English Translation Bible, Prov. 3:57).

It catches me off guard every time. Swift and smooth. Its main tactic is to grasp you by slowly creeping up when you least expect it. Perhaps it already has a grip on you. Maybe you have not even noticed yet.

Self-reliance becomes an intimate friend for the successful believer. You probably have seen this or even experienced this in your own life. Every time I find myself successful   at   work,   sports,   school, friends, or ministry, I have no reason to ask for help. I mean, why would I?! I am doing great… Everything is going great! The important question here is, what is the spiritual condition of my heart?  It is  only  then,  when  I  realize  that  I  have not  prayed  or  read  Scripture  in  days perhaps even weeks and this is only the symptom, not the problem. What makes self-reliance hard to spot is that it hides with a mask of successfulness and a mask of “righteous” independence and autonomy.  Success  can  buy  you  that house  and  car  you  wanted;  it  can  buy you the fancy clothes and the expensive vacation. Success gives you the respect and the applause you think you deserve, and the good reputation for your hard work and discipline. Now, don’t get me wrong,  there  is  nothing  wrong  with wanting  to,  and  being  successful.  The problem is when your heart is spiritually stagnant despite everything around you being prosperous. To have it all is to have nothing at all.

The self-reliant heart believes in self-sufficiency and has The Self as the center of all.  Essentially, it is the exaltation of The Self above everything else. It is pride at its finest and purest state.  Pride, as the original sin, invigorates and enables other sins and as we know, pride makes the easiest thing the hardest thing to do. Therefore, reliance on the Omnipotent, Omniscient   and   Omnipresent   Lord makes sense theoretically.  To depend on The One who has no greater, makes sense. Why then, depend on ones’ self? The  world  upholds  independence  and sees  dependence  as  a  weakness  and reliance  as  a  vice.  Is this sound Biblical teaching?

There are two negative effects of the self-reliant heart.  It harms oneself and it harms the Church.  Self-reliance will naturally hinder your own spiritual life. Truth is, many times self-reliance hides’ behind a facade of spirituality. You may think that all is well.  In  fact,  perhaps you  are  the  believer  who  attends church  biweekly,  the  one  who  leads a  Bible  study,  the  one  who  mentors the  younger  ones,  the  one  who  leads outreach  groups,  but  the  truth  is,  you might be deceiving others and worst of all, deceiving yourself.

You can do all the right things for the wrong reasons. Finally, self-reliance hinders the Church by keeping believers from ministering to one another. When the believer relies on self, he prevents others from using their gifts towards him. When the pride of Self-reliance is within the Body of Christ, there is no Body at all! “So now there are many members, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you,’ nor in turn can the head say to the foot, ‘I do not need you.’” (1 Cor. 12:2021).

We must not be self-reliant but Christ-reliant; a body whose parts are humble enough to work with each other for the glory of God.  Bringing  it  all  together,  I believe  that  one  of  the  most  practical ways of dealing with self-reliance is the power  of  thankfulness.  When you find yourself slipping into a lapses of self-sufficiency, be thankful. Remind yourself of the many blessings you have received: creation, redemption, salvation, justification, sanctification and one day, eternity with the one and only true God. On a more short term note, there is true comfort  in  following  the  proverbial message  of  not  leaning  on  oneself. When we become less self-reliant and more Christ-reliant, the following verse in Proverbs promises “healing to [One’s] body and refreshment to the inner self.” (Prov. 3:8). It is certainly ironic that one’s true and health care for self only comes as a by-product of relying more on Christ and not vice versa.

Related Post

Leave us a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.