by Kevin Burton
The electricity at my house went out ever so briefly on a recent Sunday morning.
Of course, I couldn’t know this would be a brief interruption. With the lights out I went into contingency mode, thoughts running out ahead of me.
If this lasts long the house will get hot. My mother’s house will be hot. We’ll have a lot of meat to grill, but how to store it? Should get some ice….
I got the radio that I knew had batteries in it so I could listen to the Sunday morning lineup of radio ministries.
I moved the settings to “radio” and “FM,” but heard nothing. This was strange as I had used this radio. I thought the batteries should still be good.
So I went downstairs and discovered yes, I did have six C batteries as replacements. Actually switched them out.
One thing I overlooked. The electric cord was not plugged into a wall socket, but the other end was still attached to the back of the radio. I took the cord out and suddenly the batteries began to work.
So I put the old, perfectly-good batteries back in. As long as that cord was attached, in effect I was relying on electricity for power and could not tap into the power from the batteries.
Even without electricity a spiritual light bulb was illuminated. I got a picture of myself relying on my own efforts in life, not looking to the all-powerful God.
I think of this on two levels. For me anyway the first is easier. On salvation, the Bible is clear, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9 NASB)”
Dan Delzell put it this way, writing in The Christian Post, “..self-reliance ultimately ends in defeat. It either gets dethroned at conversion (2 Cor. 5-17) or sent away to eternal punishment on Judgment Day (Matt. 25:41). There is no third option.”
The scripture he refers to, in the NASB are 2 Cor. 5-17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” and Matt 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Where I need frequent reminders is the part about relying on God for things needed on a daily basis. This one is trickier because we are called to do good works, to care for family, etc.
“The longer we’re Christian…we can slowly and subtly begin to feel less needy. Self-reliance can creep in…awakening fresh confidence in our own energy and effort,” said staff writer Marshall Segal on www.desiringgod.org.
“Our impulse to finish what Christ started in our own strength must be exposed and denied,” Segal writes.
Here is more help on this subject from the book of John.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5 NASB).”
John Kuhatschek, in his study on Galatians, warns of “do-it-yourself religion.”
He gives as an example Abraham and Sarah growing impatient with God’s promise and producing a son through Hagar, Sarah’s maid.
Abraham initially believed God, but later agreed to some “do it yourself religion.” This produced turmoil in his own life that has spilled down through the centuries.
Our self-reliance may not lead to such world-changing consequences, but it will change our world and not for the better.
“The apostle Paul never claimed ‘I can do all things by myself as I empower myself,’ But he did say ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13),” Delzell writes.