When truth is adjusted just slightly, it can actually sound better than the truth. There is an insidious force out there called self-determination that can fool you into false thinking about your abilities. Self-determination is the idea that we can get what we want on our own, but this belief is the ultimate rejection of God. Self-determination is encouraged in our society, because everywhere you go, you will hear the mantra that anything is possible through hard work. This seems logical because it seems there are examples of people who have remade themselves into something great through sheer self-determination. The truth about the nature of success is much more complicated.
We often talk about the “American Dream” where anyone can become great. This just seems to make sense, but it is a slight adjustment of the truth. The oft quoted Biblical verse, “God helps those who help themselves” is not Biblical. It came from one of Aesop’s fables and was later popularized by Ben Franklin. The self help mantra sounds so good, but is exactly opposite of what the Bible teaches (James 4:13-17). The reason the saying makes sense is that it jives with a part of us that does not want to submit to God. We do not like the sound of the word submit because it means there can be unpleasant obligations. Jesus welcomes you into this submission, but offers solace for all your troubles (Matthew 11:29-30).
God has created you for a relationship with Him and part of this relationship is dependence on Him for things that are not under your control. In reality, very little is under your control. As I get closer to God, I am becoming more amazed at the regularities of life as real and true gifts. My job is a gift, my children are a gift, and the food in my refrigerator is a gift. Hard work is a Biblical command that carries logical benefits, but you need to understand the results are in His hands (Proverbs 19:21).
Poverty can befall anyone (Job 1:8-12). We say that those who are poor are that way by choice because they are lazy, have an addiction etc., but we often utilize this thought process to shuck our duty to help those in need. This is flat-out wrong thinking because we have a duty to serve the poor and oppressed (Matthew 25:41). Don’t get caught up in deciding if people are worthy to be helped. If God is telling you to give, you should give (Proverbs 14:12-14).