Week 7, Day 2

The Temptation of Self-Reliance

“When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, ‘Why do you look at one another?’ And he said, ‘Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.’”
(Genesis 42:1-2)

Jacob’s words in Genesis 42:1-2 hold great significance. It wasn’t just about buying grain. It was an invaluable lesson about the danger of self-reliance.

Self-reliance.  It’s a trait that’s often admired. We value independence, autonomy, and the ability to forge our own path. But these very qualities, when left unchecked, can create a delusion - a lie that we have control over every aspect of our lives.

Jacob’s sons, when confronted with the threat of famine, looked at one another, stuck in their inability to produce a solution. Their dependence was on their own understanding, their own abilities. They were lost in the weakness of their own self-reliance, unable to see a way out.

Jacob, on the other hand, presents an alternative to this self-reliance: reliance on information, on others, on community, on the wider world. While this isn’t obviously a reliance on God, it can be interpreted as a step away from self and towards others, which is often where we find God.

When we lean only on our own understanding, we limit ourselves to our own knowledge, our own abilities, and our own perspective. However, when we lean on our Father, we access a power beyond our comprehension: an infinite source of wisdom, strength, and provision.

Proverbs 3:5 reminds us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Our faith journey is not about navigating life on our own but about acknowledging our need for help, for divine guidance, wisdom, and provision.

 It’s about moving away from the illusion of self-reliance and embracing a life rooted in God-reliance.

The story of Jacob and his sons teaches us that we don’t have to face the famines of life alone. Whether the famine is in the form of a physical need, an emotional void, or a spiritual dryness, our survival does not depend solely on our abilities or resources. Our Heavenly Father is with us, and in Him we have more than enough.

When you encounter your own form of famine (and you will), remember to rely not just on your own strength and understanding. Open yourself to the vast resources available in the community around you and, ultimately, in your Father. For it is in recognizing our dependence on Him that we truly gain independence from fear, uncertainty, and lack.

As we move forward, let us be reminded of the beauty in our interdependence with others and our ultimate reliance on God. The temptation of self-reliance is simply a lie from our enemy. True strength is found in recognizing our dependence on each other and God, the only reliable source of provision and guidance.

Reflection Questions

• In what areas of your life have you been relying too much on your own abilities or resources, and how can you shift towards a more God-reliant attitude?

• Can you think of a time when you recognized that your self-reliance was insufficient and that turning to God or your community led to a better outcome?
Mitch has served in ministry for many years and currently leads a local counseling ministry called RESTORED. His passion is seeing individuals grab hold of real freedom found only in Christ.
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