Surrendering Self-Sufficiency: Katy McCown

March 8, 2016

Dependence: the Heart of the Gospel

I recently read an article stating 82 percent of Americans believe that the statement: “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse. Those who identified as born-again Christians did a little better…by only one percent! Besides revealing a lack of Biblical literacy, this statement is quite opposite of the Gospel.

The Gospel, the good news of Jesus, is that we are not only lost and broken, but desperately sinful and wicked (the word “wicked” might seem over-the-top to some, but since God’s glory and holiness is the proper comparison, rather than the “worst people we know,” then wicked is in fact appropriate). Our hearts are inherently rebellious towards God, opposed to His authority in our lives, and bent towards sin (read Romans 3:10-20). We want to be self-sufficient and independent, an authority unto ourselves. We are prideful and self-centered, and we have no fear of God apart from God’s grace. Because of this condition, we are utterly helpless to stand righteous before God on our own. We are even helpless to choose him or believe in Him apart from His revelation of Himself and His grace. We deserve eternal separation from God, judgment, and punishment for our sin. If I stopped here, this would be called the Bad News of Jesus Christ.

But God, rich in mercy, kindness, and pity, came down to make a way. Jesus, the 2nd person of the Trinity, came to Earth- fully God and fully man- to live a perfect life (that we could not live) and die a death that we deserved for the sin we could not pay for. Three days later, he was raised from the dead, victorious over sin and death, having satisfied the payment for sin. When we turn from our sinful lives, believe this message, and put our hope and trust in Jesus, we are saved– forgiven of ALL of our sins (past and future) and adopted into God’s family. We are also given a new heart that fears God, welcomes his authority, mourns over our sin, pride, and selfishness, and runs to Him rather than away from Him. We are not saved by “helping ourselves” or working our way to God, but by receiving the marvelous gift of His grace.

We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Not only are we spiritually dependent on God (to be saved and reconciled to Him), but we are dependent on Him in every way. Acts 17:28 says, “In Him, we live and move and have our being.” He gives us breath in our lungs and keeps our hearts beating. “He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command,” (Hebrews 1:3) and in Christ, “all things hold together.” He knit each of us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139), and endowed us with every gift, trait, and hair on our head. He has numbered our days, and He is the Sovereign giver and taker of life. Our lives are completely in His hands, whether we believe it or not.

While we are entirely dependent on God in every way, God also gives us choice and responsibility that we are accountable for. When we reject God’s free gift of salvation in Jesus and continue to walk in “self-sufficiency,” pride, and self-centeredness, we subject ourselves to serious consequences. We are called to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), and there are hundreds of commands in the Bible that require our action that we are responsible for. Yet, the very verse after Philippians 2:12 (quoted above), says, “For it is God who works in us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Similarly, John 15:5 says that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Thus, despite our responsibility to act, “God helps those who help themselves” is faulty from a spiritual perspective even if we are talking about it from the sole angle of being responsible and “doing our part.”

When we realize our complete dependence on God, we are humbled and filled with thanksgiving. We are led to treasure Him above everything else and to trust Him more completely. I encourage you to meditate on the Gospel today and ask God to show you your anxious thoughts, like Katy encouraged. Let us open our hands to surrender everything that is already in His good hands. Surrender doesn’t mean that everything will go as we want or that life will be easy. But it does mean that everything is in the hands of a sovereign and loving Father who Himself is with us and is the greatest treasure we can possess in this life and for eternity. And NOTHING can separate us from Him and His love.