Self-Reliance is Overrated

“…Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”

But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”

And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”(Mark 6:36-37, NKJV*)

 I had one of those “aha” moments today while rereading the familiar account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6. I’m sure you know the story. Jesus had compassion on the crowd who sought him out, and he stayed to teach the multitude despite the original plan of secluded retreat time with the disciples. When it grew late, the disciples wanted to send the people away to buy food for themselves. Instead, Jesus told the disciples to feed them all.

 In the past I looked at the miracle that followed as a demonstration of God doing the impossible to meet a need. But the disciples apparently had sufficient funds on hand to pay for everyone’s food. Their response wasn’t an outcry about the futility of the situation, they were objecting to the idea of meeting the need out of their own pockets. 

 Here’s where the ‘aha’ part came for me. God isn’t moved by need. He’s moved by the faith of those who seek first a supernatural solution to every problem, not a natural solution. He’s moved by complete dependence on His counsel, His provision, and His faithfulness. 

 We’ve been wrongly trained to believe that self-reliance is a good quality. I know my first inclination when faced with a challenge is to try to meet needs on my own. As a result, I often get depleted, feel resentful, or worse, proud that I rose to the occasion. But God is teaching me that when I’m self-sufficient, I’m not only robbing myself of greater blessings, I’m robbing God of glory and giving it to myself. 

 The Lord is inviting us to depend on Him more and more—not just when we have no other recourse, but every day, in every decision. Why settle for managing everything ourselves? Although we may be meeting our needs, perhaps God has something even greater in mind than our just getting by. Let’s make every effort to seek His wisdom before formulating our plans—even when it comes to the mundane… like the disciples’ question, “What are we having for dinner?” Why subsist on TV dinners, when God’s inviting us to a banquet?

 

*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.