I don’t know about you, but I tend to be relatively pleased with myself.
I mean, I’m a hard worker, reasonably intelligent (okay, I think I’m pretty intelligent; I do, after all, enjoy Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice), and being an American, I was born with that wretched hard work ethic that assures me I’m doing as well as I am because I’m so good at what I do.
But then real life intervenes, and finances hit, or health, or stress — it doesn’t take much to unbalance me — and I realize that I’m not so amazingly impressive after all. In the midst of castigating myself for being arrogant, it’s good to know I’m not alone (that’s always a good thing to know), and this passage from Deuteronomy 8: 10-14 confirms a general human attribute: pride.
Moses is speaking to the Israelites, who have been wandering in the desert for 40 years, just prior to their launching into the promised land:
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord you God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God.”
A few verses later, he adds,
“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”
It’s good to work hard. It’s good to be smart. To do kind things. To live honorably.
But these aren’t the be-all and end-all of everything, and they’re not things we can do exclusively on our own. Oddly, there’s a certain sense of security in knowing that it’s not all up to you. You’re not off the hook for working hard, but you’re not responsible for shaping the future.
I’ve written about this in greater depth at my sister blog, Commonsense Christianity, at BeliefNet. You may be interested in
Don’t Worry: It’s Not All up to You (God WANTS us to depend upon Him, which runs totally counter to the American culture.)
The Audacity of Despair (Naturalism. That’s the belief that there’s no God, no supernatural intervention, no nothing but you against the world — alone. Give me Christianity.)
Sleeping Christians: Wake. Up. (We are dumbing ourselves down, by the books we read, the shows we watch, the shallowness of our thoughts and desires. But it only takes a moment to wake up.)
Missional. Intentional. Authentic: Meaningless (At the same time that we are reading dumbed down books, we fool ourselves into thinking we are intellectual by pseudo-speak.)