Monday, February 24, 2014

The Futility of Self Effort


I often wonder what it would be like to fully see into the Spirit realm.  I'm sure if we could gaze unhindered into the unseen realm we would be surprised at how many perceptions and understandings we have that need to be adjusted to match up with reality as Heaven knows it.  One of the major roles of the Holy Spirit is to alert us to the changes we need to make in order to cooperate with those things that God wants to do in and around us as we learn to walk by faith in a realm that we cannot fully see.  

Learning to live and walk by faith is key if we are to step fully into our destiny and see the fulfillment of our promises.  For me, the bottom line of faith is believing what God has said, then stepping out on it to demonstrate that I believe it to be so.

But, far too often we try and mix in man's best efforts or solutions just in case faith doesn't work out.  But, faith mixed with man's best efforts is not faith at all.

This is similar to what was taking place in Paul's rebuke of the Galatians in Gal. 3:3-5, 'Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing? Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?'

We live in a culture steeped in self effort and we are often blind to how it has permeated our lives. The Galatians were trying to mix in human effort with the gospel of faith and Paul assures them that it just won't work. It won't work for us either.

Early in our marriage, before encountering Financial Peace and Dave Ramsey, we were trying to find our way through financial struggles like many young married couples do. We wanted to live by faith, but the temptation to step in with a credit card when debts were looming sometimes got the best of us. It often felt like we didn't have a choice, but the reality was that we did. Faith will always feel risky because it is stepping out into the unseen.  I remember feeling disappointed that God 'didn't come through' for us, but what I didn't see at the time was that inserting our own solution (the credit card) short-circuited the whole faith process, and prevented God from meeting our need in the way that He would have wanted. The Apostle Paul might have said to us, 'Are you so foolish?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by using a credit card?'  

Another enemy of true faith is presumption. Presumption occurs when we insert our own wishes or desires in place of what God has said. Again, we can only step out in faith on what God has said, not what we wish He would say, or what we want Him to say, but what He has actually said.

Like presumption, self effort is devoid of true faith.  A sure sign that we are stepping into self effort or presumption is when faith plays no part in the equation.  Some good questions to ask ourselves are:

  • What am I living by faith to see?
  • What have I heard God say, and am I believing it will come to pass?
  • Am I trusting Him and leaving room for Him to work in my life?
  • Do I feel I have to manipulate circumstances or find my own solutions?

I have experienced firsthand the futility of self effort and the disappointment of faithless living.  Like the Children of Israel, I came to the place that I didn't want to circle that old desert one more time.

Believing God is a big deal. In fact, it's such a big deal that Heb. 11:6 tells us, "without faith it is impossible to please God....".  Faith is not some unreachable standard that God has put in place to frustrate us, but a key to our joy and fulfillment here on earth.  Unbelief, or lack of faith will always keep us from moving forward. The Israelites were not able to enter into their Promised land because of unbelief.  It seems like such a simple thing, but our adversary opposes us and wants us to fail in our faith journey. He knows that it's only through faith that we are able to access our full inheritance and promises, so He pulls out his big guns and blasts us with doubt, fear, and accusations aimed at our Father.  And all the time, our Father patiently whispers, "Hear my voice and trust me".

I absolutely love Heb. 12:2 because it tells me that Jesus is "the author and perfecter of my faith".  Faith was His idea......He authored or created my faith.  Not only that,  He promises to perfect my faith.  I have a hunch that when he sets about perfecting something, he does a really good job.

Thank you Father that "He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it" and that includes perfecting my faith.  Thank you for revealing the futility of self effort and the arrogance of presumption.  And thank you that my faith comes easily when like Abraham and Sarah I "...consider Him faithful who had made the promise." (Heb. 11:11) 


  1. Such a good reminder! I spent a few years as a single mom with small children. During those years He promised to take care of us - without government help. At times I tried to "help" Him by doing things like buying the children shoes on a credit card. Within days someone would give us shoes that would have filled the need. He would gently say, if you'll just wait on Me, I'll take care of you. It took me awhile but I learned that although not in my timing, He did always meet the need : )
    Kingdom Life & Blessings

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You mentioned another important factor in learning to walk by faith.......timing! So thankful we have the Holy Spirit to lead us in this process. : ) Blessings!