On Our Own, We Fail

Too often we try and do things under our own power. I have seen ministries and churches try programs and people, thinking those are the answers. Or they will go back to old methods, like “revivals,” hoping those result in some turn around because of a historic event which did. 

And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”  – 1 Kings 3:11-14, ESV

Solomon had it all. If anyone was going to succeed spiritually, we’d have expected Solomon because he lacked for nothing. He even was granted wisdom at a level none of the rest of us has ever been blessed with. But you read about Solomon in Scripture and you realize that even thought he expanded Israel to its largest size, Solomon departed from God. He broke the tenets about not having too many horses or wives, as the Law commanded Israel’s leader to be wary of (Deuteronomy 17:15-17). He worshipped the false gods of his foreign wives. He finally wrote how much of his life was vanity. Instead of succeeding spectacularly, Solomon had a great number of failures. 

If we rely just our own abilities, programs, people, and methods, we will fail spiritually. This is true whether we are talking as individuals or as congregations. It isn’t the program that results in spiritual success. A person himself or herself doesn’t guarantee results. And just because it worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work now. See, none of those take into account God. If we are relying on anything or anyone else, we will eventually fail. 

The good news is that we can keep trying to rely on God. Yes, we will have our share of failures. Even Solomon did, so to expect otherwise in our own lives is foolish. However, when we discover we have turned away from Him, we can choose to return. He is faithful to forgive us when we truly repent. And if we want spiritual success, we need God. God is the reason for our success. Yes, God can use a program, a person, or a method. But it has to be about God first. 

The Shorter Westminister Catechism asks as its first question, “What is the chief end of man?” Unfortunately, many within our churches don’t know the Scripture-backed answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” Without Him we fail. With Him we succeed. And when we succeed with Him, we glorify Him. And we enjoy that success. Let us lean on Him ever more and reap the spiritual benefits and joy. 

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