“LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” – Isaiah 26:12 (NIV)
I like accomplishments. I like reading biographies of people who have accomplished great things. I enjoy sifting through news articles to find the ones about people who have done something amazing. The Guinness Book of World Records fascinates me. It amazes me to read about the man who typed the most books backward, or about the woman with the longest hair in the world. And I like accomplishing things, and getting things done. It feels good to finish reading a book, or finish my college education, or finish running a 10k race. Spiritual accomplishments feel even better. It’s deeply satisfying to memorize a long passage of scripture, or read the entire Bible in a year, or share the gospel with a non-Christian.
But there’s a unique temptation that comes with accomplishing something. I’m tempted to be proud of what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved. I want to say, “Hey, look over here! We’ve got something pretty significant going on. I just shared the gospel. Feel free to call me The Apostle, or Mr. Graham. Yes, I know, I’m gifted. What can I say?” After every accomplishment, pride whispers words of self-adoration in my ear.
Scripture however, takes a different view of our achievements. We’re told very clearly that all we’ve accomplished is from the Lord. Wow, that puts a bit of a damper on my enthusiastic self- worship. All that I’ve accomplished comes from the Lord. My accomplishments at work? From God. My spiritual successes? They are the result of God at work in my life. My athletic ability? That too is from God. Anything good or noble that I’ve accomplished is the result of God’s unmerited kindness. To be proud over my accomplishments is to rob God of the glory that belongs to Him alone. It makes me a glory thief.
Friend, what have you accomplished? Are you tempted to be proud at your recent successes? Are you tempted to boast of what you’ve done and glory in what you’ve achieved? If so, take time to meditate on this passage and to remember where all success comes from.