Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:3); But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1 Cor 15:10) ~ Independence; Self-sufficiency; that popular idea that implies we can become whatever we want to become—without help from anyone. Unfortunately these days that means even without God. This speaks to the essence of what we long for: to be a self-made people. But this desire for self-sufficiency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact it helped pave the way for sin to enter the world. The lure of knowing all God knows drew Eve into wrong thinking. Dependence on her Creator seemed limiting, not freeing. We all follow in her footsteps when we seek knowledge that will empower and give us ‘independence’ apart from God. We like to relegate Him to certain times and spaces in our lives, insisting on handling the rest by ourselves. We fail to realize that building a life apart from God would mean, well, an eternity apart from God. There is a common saying that “God helps those who help themselves”. It sounds rational and seems like it would even be a good stance that God would take; After all: if we demonstrate some effort to improve, God will surely get behind us in our attempts to change. When we’re feeling motivated to make something happen, we assume God will help us because we’re putting forth the energy to make a change. Besides, He’s not going to waste his time putting more effort into us than we are putting into ourselves. Right? So we qualify ourselves based on the hard work we do. We evaluate our character based on how often we go to church, attend Bible studies, volunteer, or check other items off the standard religious resumé. We regulate ourselves by making things laws that we believe in our eyes as a people… are for the good of the people. We like to do it ourselves and we make the decision of how it gets done! We are the ultimate factor in our destiny. But when you do all these things and yet little transformation takes place, what then? Work harder? Do better? Make another law? Promise to do this or swear not to do that? We “up” our effort and willpower – we impart more discipline. Discipline is a great word. But it’s all too easy to assume discipline is the sole solution to our problems. Here’s the thing… If we could be so sufficient on our own, why did Jesus have to die? We couldn’t save ourselves from the consequences of our sins. God did that FOR us. Do we think we can now live without sin without His help? Are we trying to finish what He started? Do we think we can perfect ourselves BY ourselves? Will more effort and more willpower to make ourselves do more works and obey more rules more consistently actually make us better? It is God that has given us His Spirit and this—combined with our faith, not our strenuous moral striving—is what will perfect us! God doesn’t help those who help themselves. God helps those who walk with Him in faith! Our efforts were never the impetus for God’s transforming grace. They won’t be the impetus for our changed hearts either. We don’t need will power or self-effort or another rule or regulation. We need faith that God will accomplish in us and for us what we can’t do for ourselves. It’s not about self-sufficiency and independence; contrary to what you start to believe when you rely on your own efforts. God is the only one that can exist independent of any external efforts and sustain Himself BY Himself. We actually DO need Him! He is the source of what we long for and need. Don’t let the pride of independence and free will fool you! Although we are created in His image, God does not give us the power to imitate Him; He gives us Himself! And contrary to popularity, we can’t do it without Him!