The One Thing That Keeps Us From Gloating

For many, the iconic, self-made millionaire is the epidemy of American life. The familiar, if not trite, mantra goes something like this: “Work harder than everyone else now, and collect your millions later.

There’s no denying many people have made their fortune from hard work, long days and lots of sweat. This is commendable and even admirable.

But the story-line for self-made millionaires is often exceedingly self-congratulatory: “I made my millions, because I got up earlier and stayed later than anyone else around me. That’s the price of success most aren’t willing to pay. I am.”

These words scrape against the grain of faith-talk from believers who confess God as their Jehovah Jireh: “my God who provides.”

Can we have it both ways? Can double credits for our wealth be issued to both God and ourselves? Can we boast simultaneously about God and “pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps”?

Both the short and long answers are: “No.”

Remember how Moses warned the Israelites about the danger of taking credit for their success and subsequent wealth in Canaan: “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18, NIV).

There’s no wiggle room here. When it comes to our wealth, claiming “we deserve it” and “God has blessed us with it” can’t be reconciled. It’s either one or the other. Never both.

So, is there a way forward? What’s the one thing we can do to avoid gloating about our wealth and give God glory instead?

Obey Christ.

This instruction is the basic road map Moses gave to Israel for Canaan. He said, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God … and be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands” (Deuteronomy 8:10-11, NIV).

Jesus patterned His living the same way telling His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.” (John 4:34, NIV)

Why obedience?

Because its constant rhythm reminds us of our way with God. As our acting, speaking and relating are shaped by Christ, we connect the dots between God’s abiding presence and His daily provision.

Before long, the misguided self-made mantra is traded for one true core belief:

Everything we own comes not by our own power and resourcefulness, but directly from the hand of God.