Sinful Heart Conditions: Self
There are several sinful heart conditions that start with the word, “self.” Self-pity, self-centeredness, and self-focus are a few that many of us are familiar with. But there’s another one that may surprise you. It is self-sufficiency, and after prayerfully studying it for a while, I have come to the conclusion that it is one of the most grievous of all the self-sins. Self-sufficiency is an attitude of the heart that says, “I am the solution to every problem I encounter. I must step into every conflict, save every relationship, keep peace where there may be strife. If there is a problem, I must see how I can help.”
Now, these may seem like noble statements. After all, we are called to bear one another’s burdens and to help each other. But, as with every choice we make, we must look at the heart. What is the motive of all this desire to help? For those who have a pattern of self-sufficiency, the motive may be to step into the place of God, seeking control of the situation.
Symptoms of Self-Sufficiency
Are you stressed out? Do you struggle with anxiety? How about fear of man? If any of these battles are real for you, then you might want to consider that they are rooted in self-sufficiency. Let’s start with being stressed out. For most of us, this means we are overcommitted. We have so much going on that we meet ourselves coming and going, and we never really get caught up on one thing before more obligations or requests come in. It’s not that we can’t say no, or that someone else couldn’t do the task as well or better than we can. We take on these obligations because we know we will do it right. Let’s face it, girls. We want it done our way, so we agree to do it. “Others may be able to do it,” goes our thinking, “but I really want to be the one who decides how it’s done, so I will do it.” Get enough of this type of thinking going, and you will be stressed out to the max!
What about anxiety? Are you worried often? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you find yourself feeling panicked when there’s nothing really to fear? These are all fruits of a self-sufficient heart. When we are worried or fearful about anything, we are not trusting God. Our worry and fretting about these things are evidence that we have put our trust in something other than God. We believe there is something we should or could be doing to solve a problem or prevent a disaster, when really the outcome is in God’s hands. After all, if there was something we could do, we would be doing it instead of worrying, right? Worry, anxiety and fear come into play when we’ve exhausted all of our options, and there’s nothing we can do. Instead of praying and trusting God, we are consumed with our problem and how its outcome will affect us. And there’s that self-root again. Yes, worry and anxiety are fruits of self-sufficiency.
Fear of Man: Rotten Fruit
Yet another rotten fruit on the tree rooted in self-sufficiency is fear of man. This is what the world calls people pleasing or succumbing to peer pressure. Fear of man says, “I must keep everyone in my life happy. I must have the approval of individuals whose acceptance I’ve deemed necessary. If someone is upset with me or doesn’t like me, I must do what I can to change their mind.” Any of this sound familiar to you? Go back to that quoted passage and count the “self” pronouns. Clearly, fear of man is all about me. My self-sufficiency is proven by my desire and efforts to change the minds of those who do not love or accept me. Instead of praying for that person, or considering whether they themselves might have some fault in the problem with our relationship, I jump into efforts to correct the situation so I can get back in their good graces. Clearly, I have left God out of the equation, and become my own solution—my own God.
Here’s where you place yourself when you give in to self-sufficiency: You are in control of everything in your life. No conflict, potential disaster, or task is beyond the scope of your ability to handle it. Everyone’s problems could be solved if they would only listen to you. This is a perilous place to be, my friend, because it is the place of God. He will not allow you to pretend you belong on His throne for long before He will remove you. And sometimes, that dethroning can be painful.
I’d like to encourage you today to do something the world would discourage: Embrace your weakness, admit your inadequacy, and wave that white flag of surrender. The truth of the matter is that you are weak, you are inadequate, and that control you think you have is really a delusion. Listen to the wise words of the apostle, Paul, from 2 Corinthians 12:9:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Repent of self-sufficiency, and rejoice in your freedom to fall helplessly into the arms of your powerful and loving Father. He desires to carry you through all the troubles of your life. Stop glorifying yourself, and seek to glorify God by depending on His wisdom, tapping into His strength, basking in His love, and enjoying His approval.