My favorite YouTube channel was interrupted by an infomercial autoplay of some guy touting seminars on how to make big money flipping houses, the first step in building a successful real estate business… just like he did.
He claimed to have flipped hundreds of houses into rental property worth millions and clinched the pitch with:
“I’m a self-made businessman.”
Is there anything in the universe that made itself?
Even Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species. Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” makes mention of “the Creator.” Darwin concedes that something as simple as mistletoe owes its existence to the assist of birds.
“As the misseltoe is disseminated by birds its existence depends on birds; and it may metaphorically be said to struggle with other fruit-bearing plants in order to tempt birds to devour and thus disseminate its seeds rather than those of other plants.” (Origin of Species. Struggle for Existence, chapter 3, p. 62, American edition 1961)
In contrast, the house flipper so easily took credit for making himself a “success.” There’s a lot of pride in that: Look what I did all by myself!
It’s tempting to declare we are “self-made” when the outcome is flattering. How eager are we to own our failures? Who admits to being a self-made liar, alcoholic, abusive spouse, neglectful parent or embezzler from their elders?
In these circumstances, we typically fall back on an “I am not responsible” excuse: blaming genetics, bad childhoods, mental illness etc.
In reality, only God is self-existent and self-sustaining. He alone needs nothing outside Himself.
You and I, on the other hand, are dependent. Apart from Him, we “can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
We human beings are not the Creator. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14, my emphasis)
“Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. “(Psalm 100:3)
God takes full responsibility for what He makes, asking Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD?”
Our families, our economic status, our intellect and talents, the opportunities that come our way, the people we encounter are all part of our life story. We don’t choose much of it. And can take neither credit or blame.
Ultimately, God made each of us and has done all the work necessary to save us from ourselves. We enjoy all the benefits, if we humble ourselves and repentant of self-reliance.
It’s right to take pleasure in our accomplishments as long as we have the humility to admit this: none of us has achieved anything on our own. It’s all grace.
I realize God has treated me with undeserved grace, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. (Romans 12:3)