The word "dependence" has taken on a negative connotation in our society. It's not healthy, psychologically, to have a co-dependent relationship. We are at risk if we are dependent upon cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.
We are viewed as strong if we aren't dependent upon anyone else. Self sufficiency and self reliance are esteemed as positive virtues. Every super hero that you can think of is able to rely on themself and their own inherent strengths to get them out of any sticky situation.
Dependence = Weakness
Self-reliance = Strength
...or so says the world.
I find it interesting that immediately before beginning His ministry, here on earth, Jesus didn't have a pep rally to build Him up and get Him pumped like a prize fighter about to enter the ring. There wasn't any posturing or fans patting Him on the shoulder chanting, "Go get 'em Jesus; you're the Man!!! You can do this!"
In fact it was just the opposite. Luke 4: 1-2 says:
Then Jesus left the Jordan (where He'd just been baptized), full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil.
God doesn't even view His own Son's strengths as essential. His will is for Jesus to begin His ministry from a point of weakness and dependence.
Let me be clear that God never tempts us...
When you are tempted to do wrong, do not say, "God is tempting me." God cannot be tempted. He does not tempt anyone. (James 1:13)
God, however, allowed Satan to point out Jesus' vulnerability.
Satan's first temptation is posed to Jesus in order to get Him to take matters into His own hands. Jesus had wandered for forty days in the wilderness with nothing to eat, so at the moment Satan spoke to Him, Jesus was famished.
The enemy tempts, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Satan is manipulative. He admits Jesus' strength in being the Son of God and tempts Him to rely on Himself and turn the stone into bread and solve His own hunger problem.
Satan is a master at creating a sense of doubt - he wants to make you question why God isn't providing for you?! He taunts, "You're being denied, and if you just take matters into your own hands, you can satisfy your need on your own." There's no denying that the enemy of our soul is powerful and crafty.
Jesus, in His weakness, withstood the temptation by calling on the strength of His heavenly Father and He doesn't succumb to Satan's ploy. Jesus realizes that on His own, He's toast, but in God's strength, He is strong.
Fast forward along the Biblical timeline, and Paul (Jesus' disciple) is writing a letter to the church in Corinth. This is what he says to the early Christians:
Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in the difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Have you ever thought that if there are areas in which you are struggling, that they may be areas in which you are still too strong?
When God called me to begin a Christian school for orphans in Pakistan, I dove in with my writing abilities to get the word out and my marketing skills to raise funds, but I quickly found myself struggling. The enemy wanted to dupe me into believing that I could do this in my own strength because he wanted me to fail.
Then, when I wasn't succeeding as I had hoped, he was the first to tear me down in an attempt to render me ineffective and manipulate me into believing that God had the wrong person when He chose me. He is evil and he is clever.
Yes, God had the wrong person in me (alone)...but He had the right person when I was able to admit my weakness and call upon the strength of Christ to work in and through me.
I had to lay my pride down and pick up the strength of God.
Before I was ready for ministry, I had to be brought to my knees in weakness and declare my utter reliance and dependence upon the Lord. I need to adopt this posture every single day.
Satan's favorite lie is to tell you that you don't need God...you can handle things on your own. This plays right into our elevated sense of pride. Who wants to admit that they can't do something? Who wants to claim, "I am weak."
Look what Jesus was able to do when He declared dependence upon His Father.
Look what the disciples were able to do when they admitted their weakness and asked for Jesus' strength - they were able to walk on water. On our own, we can't walk on water, but when we depend upon the Lord, we can walk across oceans.
Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for relying on my own self sufficiency. Forgive me of my pride that says, "I can do this on my own." Enable me to see that when I am weak, it's then that I am truly strong. Remind me, Lord, that you are always "for" me and never "against" me. Protect me from the temptations of the evil one who wants to make me doubt you. Give me discernment to see right through his lies. Let me declare my dependence and utter reliance upon you, Lord...only upon you. Make me bold to do your will in your strength. Thank you for your grace that is sufficient for all my needs. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
What about you? Do you try to do things in your own strength? How does that work out? What lessons have you learned about dependence vs. self reliance? Where do you see the enemy tempting you to doubt that God is for you? When have you seen God's strength be sufficient? Will you share?
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