I love the feeling I get when I know I accomplished something. I did it with my own ability. I did it with my own skill and experience. I love that feeling so much that it’s rather easy to forget that my experience is derived from the situations God has placed in my life up until that point. My skill and ability is a product of the natural gifts God blessed me with and the opportunities He has given me to develop said skill and ability. However, the fleshly, sinful side of me wants to conveniently forget the role God played in all of it just like it wants to forget all the things God holds off so I can be successful. If you haven’t thought along those lines, stop and do so. Imagine if in a given situation you poured everything you knew and everything you were into a successful outcome. Is all that you poured in capable of resisting any and all problems? The obvious answer is, “No, don’t be silly.” For instance, if we wanted to be dramatic, could you prevent the crash of a meteor into the dream home you were building? I think not. Good thing God didn’t allow a meteor to whip through, right? So even in times when we have totally relied on our own ability and experience, we cannot claim full credit for what we accomplished.
Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys. – Genesis 30:41-43, ESV
We know that putting sticks in front of breeding sheep has nothing to do with the resulting quality of the sheep. Yet Jacob put the sticks out, thinking it was making a difference. What he didn’t understand then was God had a purpose for Jacob to prosper. So, regardless of Jacob’s personal action, he was going to succeed. It’s interesting to note that when he and Laban finally have their showdown, Jacob still thinks it is he who has made all the difference. He was of the mindset that if it hadn’t been for his exceptional skill and ability, nothing would have prospered. How wrong he was. After he encounters Esau, we see a different attitude. It looks like that wrestling match with God made a difference:
Jacob said, “No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me. Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it. – Genesis 33:10-11, ESV
The point here is that we succeed or fail according to God’s plan. That doesn’t mean we shirk our responsibilities or just go through the motions. We still give our best. However, in doing so we realize how little in control we are of the situation around us. These Biblical examples are a great reminder of this simple truth: that our own ability is highly overrated. The good news is that if you are a Christian, you have a helper and guide in the Holy Spirit. He is fully God and has all the power of God. Our success is due in large part to God’s intervention. This is why I say that our own ability is highly overrated. We can’t do very much, especially in the eternal scheme of things, without God’s help. Therefore, let us remember the great role He plays in every aspect of our lives. With this firmly in mind, we won’t have any problems being humble before Him and giving Him the honor he is due. BTW, this is the secret first step to being a more effective Christian and doing more in the same amount of time.