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Reliance: A Ditch to the Right

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Matthew 6:21–24

You turn things upside down! ​​​​

Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, ​​​​​​​

that the thing made should say of its maker, ​​​​​​​

“He did not make me”;

​​​​​​​or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ​​​​​​​

“He has no understanding”? ​

Isaiah 29:16

Spiritual blindness is a serious danger, even for the committed Christian. Let’s consider the first way that this can develop within our lives: the question of reliance.

Between The Rock and a Hard Place

It must have been truly difficult to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus. Constant, tiresome work for the sake of needy people filled their days and weeks—sinner after sinner, sickness upon sickness, squabbles here and there, town after town, hamlet after hamlet, only to be rewarded with religious thugs throwing moralisms their way for daring to give people hope. Had the Lord Himself not been leading them in word and deed, they would have had no reason to continue (Mt. 19:27; Lk. 22:28–30).

One wonders, however, if perhaps the greatest discomfort was their nearness to the Truth, the Lord Jesus. Don’t get me wrong—Christ was compassionate and gracious, especially toward His disciples. But these beautiful qualities were more evidences of His holiness than aspects of His humanity. He was astoundingly good, and from this goodness flowed not only hope for the repentant but hell for the pretender. Hypocrisy, flattery, and partiality found no place with Him, and He ruthlessly uprooted any and all falsehoods, regardless of how ancient, accepted, or esteemed they were. What would it have been like to have coffee with such a man (Lk. 7:40)? Rather than look Truth in the face, Christ’s disciples often found it easier to fall back on their own notions and ideals—and so do we. Though the Truth stands beside us, we choose to rely on our own perspective.

The Original Plagiarism

The Bible provides the clearest depiction of both humanity’s desperate need for truth and our dedication to avoiding it at all costs. From cover to cover, it repeatedly bears witness to the fact that the best way to avoid God and all that is due to Him is to become your own god (Gen. 3:5; Rom. 1:21–23). The human appetite for falsehood is truly remarkable, empowering us to keep our eyes open enough to live life yet not so open as to understand life and truly experience it. On the whole, human culture and sophistication have existed not for the purpose of knowing God but for slaying Him and placing ourselves on His throne.

Christians, indwelt with the Holy Spirit and armed with God’s Holy Word, are the only people capable of understanding their situation with open eyes. We are forgiven of all sin, assured of God’s deep affection for us, and emboldened by His sovereign purposes, so we have every reason to walk free of the “planks and motes” that so many regard as “true religion” (Mt. 7:3–5). We are clothed in a salvation that God supplies, so why would we turn to fig-leaf aprons; flimsy, religious pretensions to hide our sin from ourselves and those around us (Gen. 3:10; Gal. 6:12–13)?

A Subtle Darkness

The liberty of the Christian holds untold potential for fruitfulness and blessing. Is it any wonder then that the forces of darkness make every effort to hinder our freedom by diverting our focus from Christ onto ourselves and our circumstances? For this reason, the Lord implores us to take inventory of the beliefs, values, and ideas that govern how we view the world. It wasn’t by accident that His words about the eye follow an exhortation to put one’s stock in heaven instead of earth (Mt. 6:21) and are followed by His admonition that divided loyalties are and can only be divided (Mt. 6:24).

Self-reliance is a quiet, subtle danger, a silent undertow that requires constant vigilance. When we envision ourselves in our own image, we do the same to God as well, and, before long, our idolatries transform into our moralities. It’s no wonder then that falsehoods clasp firmly to reputation and influence as subterfuges for their illegitimacy: academic errors continue on as “well-established truth,” heretical teachings carry on as “the one true way,” and evil behavior is perpetrated in the name of patriotism or social justice. Sadly, the collateral damage does not consist of mere ideas and definitions, but of people and their souls. There is a way out, but only at the cost of the idols we have come to cherish.

Into the Light

Please don’t misunderstand me. Life is difficult and is filled with serious problems that require collective courage and sober action now. However, pandemic, propaganda, police violence, and popular unrest are God-sized problems requiring God-sized wisdom and courage. They reveal needs that are too vast to be resolved through our personal sacrifices and impassioned community efforts. Therefore, if we truly desire to help ourselves and those around us, we must begin on our knees, imploring a trustworthy Savior to cleanse our vision. This involves nothing short of an honest assessment of what beliefs and values we count on and whether those concepts are, in fact, true.

If I believe that I am alone and the government is dangerous, then I do well in refusing to wear a mask in spite of the government’s COVID-19 regulations. But what does God say about my life? And what does God say about the government? If I believe that I am alone and my neighbor is a hater, then I must take action. But what does God say about my life? And what does God say about my neighbor? Fear and frustration may be affecting our perspective far more than we realize, but a willingness to let go of our frenzied efforts and allow God to inform our thinking will change not only what we see in the moment but who we become in the midst of the needs around us.

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