The Sure Sign of Self-Sufficiency

Two Sundays ago, as a young boy in our church was showing me his Star Wars Legos, he told me he wants to buy a Star Wars ship that costs $60.  I asked how much he’d saved.

“Twelve dollars,” he said.

“Well, when you get up to $59, tell me and I’ll give you the last dollar.”

A few minutes later, I went back to him and said, “You know what?  I’ll give you a dollar now instead of making you wait till later.”  A huge smile spread across his face as he stared wide-eyed at the dollar bill.

A week later, last Sunday, as soon as he saw me, he made a beeline to me and asked, “Can you give me $38.00?”

“What?”  I asked.  “I just gave you a dollar last week, and now you’re coming and asking me for $38?”

Undaunted, he said, “Well, can you give me $50?”

So I said, “Sure.  First you give me three little $20 bills, then I’ll give you a great big $50 bill.”  He wrinkled his brow, and pursed his lips, pondering.  After a few seconds he asked, “How about if you give me $70?”

What’s great about children is that when they want something they ask.  They usually aren’t afraid to ask their parents for anything they’d like.  Jesus told us to come to our Heavenly Father and ask, seek and knock, boldly and persistently.  Yet so often we try everything else first.

We tackle situations with our children without seeking God’s wisdom.  We try to push through hard times on our own.  We’ll figure it out.  We can solve this.  Rather than ask God for help, we try live by our wits.

Why do we do this?  Because we’re self-sufficient.

We don’t rely on God.  We say we need him, but often act as if we don’t.

The sure sign of self-sufficiency is prayerlessness.

James says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (4.2). You lack strength because you don’t pray for it.  You lack joy because you don’t ask Jesus to fill you.  You lack wisdom because you don’t seek it from God.  When we’re self-sufficient, we don’t pray, and we don’t receive.

So be like a child.  Ask God for whatever you need.  He won’t refuse you $38 if it’s his will and for his glory.

photo by rychlepozicky.com

  • http://www.ampersandphoto.net Sarah Danaher

    "No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly." —Ps. 84:11. The beautiful thing about loving and serving a sovereign, all-knowing & all-powerful Lord is that a verse like this speaks of the faithfulness of His character, not just what He will give. Because I know my Lord, I know that if I feel I lack something, it's because it's not a "good thing" right now. Because He says He will not withhold good.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Excellent comments Sarah! Amen. All our hope is based in God's character – his perfect, faithful, unchanging, sovereign, wise, loving character. Thanks for adding your comments!

  • Petra Hefner

    Maybe I woke up grouchy today, but the boy's example seems to me more a story of ungratefulness rather than earnest prayer. Well, earnest he was, and very persistent. Perhaps I should learn from that. God is faithful! :-)

  • Elaine

    One great help is the Word, particularly focusing on those verses which described the joy and delight the Father has in His children and providing for them. Prior teachings had always emphasised our service to the Lord but the focus on service without a close relationship certainly made one feel like a hired hand and not a beloved child. It was only recently that I began focusing more on my relationship with the Lord as Father and the joy that relationship brings to both of us. How humbling is that – to know that the truly all sufficient One, the God of the universe, derives joy from His children! What a concept! Zephaniah 3:17 has quickly become one of my favorite verses. Focusing on God as my Father has certainly put a dent in my self sufficient tendencies and is helping me become more childlike in my prayers.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Mark!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Excellent point Elaine–knowing God is our Father gives us great confidence to ask!

  • Gregg Metcalf

    Ouch! But thanks!

  • Mark Altrogge

    Sorry, and you're welcome!

  • Petra Hefner

    You're right! Grouchiness is a form of ungratefulness too. I might go back to bed and start over. :-)

  • jay @ bethegospel

    Good stuff man. think I need to start praying for a few things in my life once I get done posting.

    • MarkAltrogge

      I'm with you jay

  • http://seekingpastor.wordpress.com seekingpastor

    Boldness often comes because the person doesn't understand the rules. I need to realize that when talking to God, there are no rules.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hey seeking,

      I'm not sure I exactly know what you mean. If by "no rules" you mean we have free access to our Father through Jesus, Amen!

      But there are certain "conditions" (not necessarily rules) that we need to meet to have our prayers answered, like praying according to God's will, for his glory and in Jesus' name. Maybe you can elaborate and let me know what you meant.

  • http://www.worshipfulreader.blogspot.com Ron Reffett

    Hey there Mark,
    Wow, what a needed reminder today! (as usual!) I am so very guilty of trying to do things on my own, especailly when it comes to trials that i face within my family. I think that I'm going to get through this next wave of "stuff" and end up falling flat on my face. You are so right about the prayerlessness in all of this, I live like a practical atheist so much of the time, I say that I believe God and am in need of Him and yet I still try to do everything on my own, that is why I need to be reminded daily of the good news of the Gospel.
    Thanks for yet another great reminder today!
    Blessings
    Ron Reffett

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hi Ron,

      Glad to hear that there's another person in my club! Thanks for your humble comments!

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  • http://www.benjermcveigh.com Benjer McVeigh

    Hilarious story. Kids ask someone for something when 1) they want that something and 2) they believe that particular person can provide that something. Too often, this is not true of me.

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