Self-sufficiency is something that is really sneaky that can creep into our spiritual lives before we even see it coming. It is really sneaky, really subtle, and it could stop us before we start. Typically it will reveal itself in 1 of 2 ways:
Arrogance: We look within ourselves and conclude we can do it. We can get it done. Our childhood idol was G.I. Joe and we can make it happen!
Discouragement: We look within and conclude it is impossible. We can’t do this. Our childhood idol was Eeyor and we are going to mess it up.
Both of those responses are an attack against the gospel because it is looking within and based on our resources determining if we can do something or not. That isn’t the gospel. It isn’t our self-sufficiency that gets us to Jesus and it isn’t our self-sufficiency that keeps us with Jesus. Here are some other characteristics of self-sufficiency:
• Self-sufficiency is when we tell ourselves if we work harder we can do it
• Self-sufficiency is when we quit before trying
• Self-sufficiency is when we measure our effectiveness by results
• Self-sufficiency is when we compare ourselves to others
• Self-sufficiency is when our attitude is determined by our production
Here is what happens in our spiritual life. Before Jesus we conclude we don’t need Him, He is for the weak, we can do it without Him, and then by the power of the Holy Spirit our eyes are opened and we place our faith in Jesus. We are overtaken by the love, forgiveness, mercy, removal of shame that we fall to our knees in gratitude. We love it when we year Jesus say, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When He says, “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.”
The gospel in its fullest expression is Jesus comes to us, Jesus embodies all the good that could ever be done, Jesus takes all the bad that could ever be done, He dies for it, He overcomes it, and that is why He says all who are thirsty come to me and you will never thirst again. He has done it all. Our hearts are full.
Now here is where we struggle, because we slowly open our eyes and start to look around and notice what others are doing. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? I am doing better than that guy? But she looks like she is doing better than me and we start to panic. Some of us just give up and stop all together, some of us start working harder, but either way it doesn’t feel like Jesus has quenched our thirst, it doesn’t feel like His burden is light and His yoke is easy, it doesn’t feel like we have found rest. It feels like we are exhausted.
When we find ourselves in this place we are in the midst of self-sufficiency.