The Self-Made Man
"Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." Psalm 100:3
Let's pop this bubble right from the start: There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman.
If any of us experience worldly success of any kind, it is from the hand of Almighty God. Oh sure, we may put forth effort, but it is God who allowed the effort! He gives us every good thing. He grants us wisdom to act, the opportunities to act on, allows us to have good health, wealth, and rebukes the devourer on our behalf (James 1:17, Malachi 3:11, Proverbs 10:22). He even blesses those who do not follow Him (Matthew 5:45).
So, why is it that we struggle so much in this area? Is it simply a matter of pride?
Certainly, pride has much to do with this, but there is something else at work. That is the faith/works struggle—one of the devil's favorite tools to confuse both followers and would-be followers of Jesus, alike.
Salvation has nothing to do with (our) work, and post-salvation has everything to do with (our) work—it is the proof of salvation.
Lest we misunderstand that statement, let us examine what Scripture has to say.
None of us can ever do anything to earn our salvation. All the work was done by Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). We must fully grasp this, though it is contrary to the world's way, and accept the overwhelming, lavish, and unimaginable generosity of such a gift! Once we have truly internalized what we can of this rich, incomparable gift, then we will have the faith necessary to follow Him—without second-guessing Him. Eve second-guessed Him in the garden, and we've all done that, too. The richness of God's gift seems too good to be true, but it is true. He proves Himself to us daily. So then, let us prove ourselves to Him, but not to earn anything.
Our motive must be love for Him.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 3:8, "Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God."
And, James 2:17-18 tells us, "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
I pray that we will all see that we are God-made men and women, branches bearing much good fruit through the loving and limitless vine of Jesus Christ our Lord.