WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
FEBRUARY 7, 2021
TOPIC: DON’T TRUST IN YOURSELF
BY T. O. BANSO
“We are the ones who are truly circumcised. We worship God through his Spirit, and our pride is in Christ Jesus. We do not put trust in ourselves or anything we can do, although I might be able to put trust in myself. If anyone thinks he has a reason to trust in himself, he should know that I have greater reason for trusting in myself” (Philippians 3:3-4 New Century Version).
Perhaps everybody faces the temptation of trusting in himself or putting confidence in himself. This could be because of the consciousness he has about the sterling qualities he possesses such as his intelligence or wisdom, beauty, etc. It could be because of his possessions, position, or power. It could also be because of his accomplishments. This may not be the case initially. But, after some time, the person becomes self-conscious and feels self-sufficient. He begins to trust in himself.
This danger is real both in the secular world and in the gospel ministry. Someone can believe that because of his “breakthrough” in ministry or business he has the world at his feet. He has enormous resources to do whatever he wants to do and may not even ask God whether it is His will or not. Such a fellow trusts in himself and equates anything he feels or perceives as what God wants Him to do. After all, he has the resources. He doesn’t even clarify from God.
Even, sometimes, those around such leaders are more sensitive than they are and could sense that what they are planning to do is not right. But who are they to tell them? Everybody knows that such information is not required. It is the unwritten and unspoken law. Anyone who dares to sincerely ask questions regarding the project that has been announced is viewed as a rebel! Everyone is only required to play the part assigned to him.
We all face the danger of trusting in ourselves and not in God, especially as we begin to make significant progress in life or record what people often regard as success. We can come to a dangerous position where we trust in ourselves. We may no longer pray about things we used to pray about. We may feel we should not pray about whether we should buy something or go somewhere when we already have the money required for it. We wrongly consider the availability of money as God’s approval.
Don’t trust in yourself. Talking about himself, Paul said, “We are the ones who are truly circumcised. We worship God through his Spirit, and our pride is in Christ Jesus. We do not put trust in ourselves or anything we can do, although I might be able to put trust in myself. If anyone thinks he has a reason to trust in himself, he should know that I have greater reason for trusting in myself” (Philippians 3:3-4 New Century Version).
This is a powerful passage. The first thing I want to call your attention to in the passage is that Paul’s pride was in Christ Jesus, not in himself. With Paul’s exploits in the ministry as at the time of writing this letter, he was vulnerable to taking pride in himself because of his accomplishments in the ministry. But Paul said his pride was in Christ Jesus. I pray that your pride will not be in your business or career successes or ministerial breakthroughs. This is possible. You can begin to become proud because of the things God is using you to accomplish, forgetting that is not about you; it is about Him.
Paul also said in that passage that he didn’t put trust in himself or anything he could do, although he might be able to put trust in himself. Is that true of you, too? Or do you put trust in yourself and the things you have the ability to do, your intelligence, your expertise? Paul said if anyone thought he had a reason to trust in himself, he should know that had a greater reason for trusting in himself.
Paul went ahead to list a couple of the reasons, which were things that the Jews of his day were proud of. He said, “I was circumcised eight days after my birth. I am from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. I am a Hebrew, and my parents were Hebrews. I had a strict view of the law, which is why I became a Pharisee” (verse 5 New Century Version). In the demonstration of his religious zeal, Paul said he was so enthusiastic that he tried to hurt the church and added that no one could find fault in the way he obeyed the law of Moses.
But was Paul proud of all the credentials at the time of his writing this letter? No. He said, “Those things were important to me, but now I think they are worth nothing because of Christ. Not only those things, but I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him, I have lost all those things, and now I know they are worthless trash. This allows me to have Christ and to belong to him. Now I am right with God, not because I followed the law, but because I believed in Christ. God uses my faith to make me right with him” (verses 7-9 New Century Version).
Did you see the transformation that took place in Paul’s life? His values changed when he became a Christian. What used to be important to him was no more important. Instead, he said, “I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death. Then I have hope that I myself will be raised from the dead” (verses 10-11 New Century Version). Even after the Lord had accomplished so much through Paul, he remained little or small, which is the meaning of his name, Paul. He didn’t trust in himself or his accomplishments.
You must be careful not to trust in yourself. Don’t trust in yourself because of who you are or what you have. In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, Paul said, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (New King James Version). Did you take note of that phrase, “that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead”?
The New Living Translation renders the passage thus: “I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.”
Paul was not ashamed to talk about the trouble he and others suffered in the province of Asia, which was so overwhelming that they thought and expected they were going to die. He explained that they learnt a lesson from this, which was not to trust in or rely on themselves but on God who could raise the dead. This same God delivered them from death.
He said in verses 10-11, “And he did deliver us from mortal danger. And we are confident that he will continue to deliver us. He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks to God because so many people’s prayers for our safety have been answered” (New Living Translation).
Because you have been travelling and returning safely without any accident or danger is no reason to trust in yourself. Because you’ve been writing and passing every examination is no reason to trust in yourself. Because you’ve been successful in every venture you embark on is no reason to trust in yourself. Don’t let adversity or failure teach you not to trust in yourself. Don’t wait until you fall before you learn not to trust in yourself.
Don’t trust in your wisdom. Not even in your prayer and fasting or any spiritual activity you do. Don’t trust in your holiness or righteousness, whether imputed righteousness or self-righteousness. The Bible says by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
In Luke 18, Jesus spoke a parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others (verse 9). In this parable, the Pharisee trusted in himself. He boasted in his prayer that he was not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as the tax collector – but fasted twice a week and gave tithes of all that he possessed. However, the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed but beat his breast, and said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner”. The tax collector went home justified before God but not the self-righteous Pharisee (verses 10-14). Don’t trust in yourself because of your ability to receive divine revelations or your deep knowledge of spiritual things.
Paul said, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 New King James Version).
Without the thorn in the flesh of Paul, he could have felt self-sufficient. But because of this, he needed to constantly depend on the grace of God to neutralize the power of the thorn. The Bible does not tell us exactly what constituted the thorn. Nevertheless, despite the thorn, Paul was able to finish well his ministry. Where the grace of God is available, the presence of the thorn is no excuse. But those who trust in themselves would see no reason for grace because they want to take the credit. God’s power worked best in Paul’s weakness.
Don’t trust in yourself; trust in the Lord, and His grace is available to those who do. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6 New King James Version). To lean on your own understanding is to trust in yourself. Such people are wise in their own eyes.
Are you wise in your own eyes? Therefore, you don’t consult with God; you act contrary to His wisdom contained in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Don’t be wise in your own eyes. “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21 New King James Version). Do not be wise in your own opinion (Romans 12:16). Don’t trust in yourself and follow the way that that seems right to you, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).
In Romans 1:22, the Bible says those who rejected God professed to be wise, but they became fools. Don’t become a fool by refusing to trust in the Lord but in yourself. The Lord says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (1 Corinthians 1:19 New King James Version). That refers to human wisdom, not divine wisdom.
Wise people trust in the Lord and ask Him for wisdom. Fools despise Him and trust in their own wisdom. They claim to know what they’re doing but they’re ignorant. “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26 New King James Version).
Don’t trust in yourself, doing your own will. Jesus said he could of Himself do nothing (John 5:30a). He said the Son could do nothing of Himself (John 5:19). He also said in John 6:38 that He had come down from heaven not to do His own will but the will of Him who sent Him. According to Jesus, His food was to do the will of Him who sent Him and to finish His work (John 4:34). Jesus didn’t trust in Himself but in His Father. He is our perfect example.
Don’t trust in yourself. Trust in the Lord. Do His will, not your own will (Luke 22:42).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of my trust in myself. I cast aside my qualifications, attributes or accomplishments that make me not to trust in You but in myself. Henceforth, I shall put my trust in You, notwithstanding who I am and what I have. I renounce human wisdom and receive the wisdom of God. I shall no more be wise in my own eyes. I shall not be a fool. I shall do Your will, not my own will, in Jesus’ name.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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