Upon what or whom do you rely?
For the past few weeks, I have been ruminating about this. It seems that all of us, individually and as a society, have issues with the object of our reliance.
The dictionary defines “rely” as “to be dependent or to have confidence based on experience.” All of us rely on somebody or something. We are dependent upon or have confidence in somebody or something.
The issue is not that we are not to rely upon anybody or anything, but it is an issue of ultimate reliance. Let me explain.
Whether we think of ourselves as independent, dependent or codependent, we are relying on somebody or something. We lean on something because all of us find times that we have difficulty standing upright on our own.
The pop song tells us to “lean on me when you’re not strong.” Hopefully all of us have had times of leaning on somebody else when we needed strength.
The classic Bible verse is:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
— Proverbs 3:5
We should live with a God-Reliance. Using the dictionary definition, this would mean that we depend on God or have confidence in God based on experience. He has a pretty good track record.
In our society, we are prone to err in one direction or another. The first error is that of leaning too strongly on society. Society can be defined here as family, friends or government. Notice that the error is in leaning or relying too strongly on society. All of us may at times need to lean on a family member or a friend. Some may even need to lean upon society as a whole.
The danger is that we transfer our ultimate reliance from God onto society. These are the people who never can stand on their own. They are like children who never learn to walk. They don’t toddle. They don’t even crawl. They are simply carried about by others.
Perhaps you know individuals like this that are still in an infant stage when it comes to life. They wait for somebody to satisfy their basic desires…and they cry when they are left with unmet desires.
This is the problem with a government welfare system that continues to reward infantile behavior. Some are hearing a message encouraging them to stay immature. Somebody will feed you, clothe you, transport you, house you and care for you when you are sick.
In the political spectrum, this is the charge leveled at the left wing from those to the right. Big government with high taxes will provide for people.
On the other hand, the left wing criticizes the right for selfish indulgence. Those on the right may find themselves guilty of the error of self-reliance.
As Americans we have a history that includes a pioneer rugged individualism that is highly self-reliant. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It becomes error when we fail to rely upon God and instead rely upon ourselves. This manifests itself in several ways.
1. We rely on our brains.
This is what Proverbs 3:5 cautions us against. This does not mean that we are be non-thinking. It does mean that our thinking should be shaped by what God says.
2. We rely on our brawn.
This is the mark of the pioneer spirit. The harder I work, the better I’ll be. Again this has some merit, but it errs when we do not walk in God’s strength.
3. We rely on our beauty.
For some of us, this is not a problem. However, we are inundated with examples in society where some get by on their good looks. Again it is God who develops beauty from within us. It is called character.
Let me put all of this into perspective in a way that I am trying to apply in my life. Recently, I have begun working in a relatively new field – selling furniture. I know that I need to learn all that I can about furniture and about selling. I know that I need to work hard. I know that I need to look presentable. However, I must be reminded that no matter how sharp I look, how hard I work or how much I know about furniture and people, I am dependent upon God.
I am trying to trust him whether I sell a little bit of furniture or large amounts of furniture.
This principle should be true in all aspects of my life. In my marriage, I want to learn more and more about loving and leading my wife. I want to put forth the energy and effort to let her know how much I love her. I want to look good for her. Yet, I am dependent upon God to provide the closeness of a marital partner that is “one flesh.”
I certainly need his wisdom because I do not know all there is to know about my wife. I need his strength to overcome my inherent weaknesses and laziness. I need him to develop more of Christ in me so that I am more appealing to my wife.
I am in awe of God with what we call his omni attributes.
1. He is omnipresent. I cannot always be with my wife nor can I always be at work.
2. He is omniscient. His knowledge overcomes my ignorance and my error.
3. He is omnipotent. When I am weak, he is strong.
So upon whom are you relying? If yourself then you will eventually grow frustrated, tired and frazzled. If on others you will either become a burden or will be let down. If on God, you will rejoice in him.
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