As babies everything was done for us, then as we grew we assumed greater independence and self-rule by taking personal responsibility for our lives. We can’t always rely on others and we will, after all, answer for ourselves individually (Mt 12:36; Rom 14:12; Heb 4:13).

While we must develop and maintain a healthy independence (doing for ourselves what is our responsibility) we should also have a humble dependence on others (asking for and allowing them to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves). In turn we should be outward looking, helping others fulfil their potential in Christ too, and serving them as they do us (Lk 6:31).

Do I do what I can, yet ask for help                             in the areas I can’t?

People, while resourceful, are unable by their efforts to reach heaven without Christ but “When we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6; Eph 2:8,9). His sacrifice achieves what we could not. However, once we are born-again we must proactively assist in our transformation to become more Christ-like. There is a healthy tension between what only God can do and what is our responsibility. We can’t earn or add to our salvation by self-effort, but can respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading and apply ourselves to do what is proper for believers who are living in close fellowship with our Saviour. ‘I can’t do it without you Lord, but with you I can’. We should acknowledge, "By myself I can do nothing..." yet "I can do all things [that He wants me to] through Christ who gives me strength" (Jn 5:30; Phil 4:13).

It is commendable to have the desire to improve ourselves as this recognizes we are imperfect and less than what we were intended for, yet anything that emphasizes self to the exclusion of God is flawed. Self-help aids can be of value to develop and steward the gifts He has given and bring improvement but their methods sometimes involve New Age meditation or other practices which the Bible condemns, thus discernment must be exercised.

Self-made people achieve success by their entrepreneurial drive, persistence and effort. While this self-help attribute enables them to accomplish amazing results in the natural realm, yet for any believers having this trait it must be harnessed by the Holy Spirit so their spiritual efforts are not of the flesh, which the Bible states will be of no eternal benefit (1 Cor 3:10-15). 

See also: co-operation, independence, motive/motivation, responsible/responsibility, self-help religion, self-sufficiency.



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